In an era where cinematic remakes and reboots are hot commodities, 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" would appear to be untouchable, a universally cherished classic for the ages—and all ages—that no one has dared try to recreate for over seventy-five years (the made-for-TV "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" doesn't count). In the intervening years, there has been a loose, borderline-horror sequel, 1985's "Return to Oz," and a smash Broadway musical prequel, "Wicked," based on the revisionist novel by Gregory Maguire. Now, at long last, comes "Oz the Great and Powerful," a lavishly-produced, big-budget fantasy that dares to imagine how the land of Oz found its wizard long before Dorothy Gale and Toto came skipping down the yellow brick road. Using author L. Frank Baum's work only as a vague blueprint while sidestepping most elements from the well-known original so as to avoid any legal issues (this film is from Disney, the '39 version was from MGM), director Sam Raimi (2009's "Drag Me to Hell") and screenwriters Mitchell Kapner (2000's "The Whole Nine Yards") and David Lindsay-Abaire (2010's "Rabbit Hole") have tossed on a fresh coat of paint to the proceedings and gone hog-wild with their expanded visualization of a place where animals can talk and wicked witches threaten the land.
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