(NECN: Erick Weber) - Here we are into our third month of the new year and there's yet to be one of those massively anticipated, mega-budgeted movies that appeals to all segments of the moviegoing population.
Hollywood calls them “tent-pole films.” The circus is certainly setting down this weekend with a return to the magical land of munchkins and flying monkeys. It's Disney's “Oz The Great and Powerful.”
Let’s make the Final Cut.
James Franco is Oz in this prequel to the 1939 ruby-slippered classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” Oz, like Dorothy, travels via tornado from Kansas to the mystical - now 3D - land of that ridiculously long yellow brick road.
Oz is met by a trio of witches - one evil (Rachel Weisz), one with dark side leanings (Mila Kunis), and one purer than the bubble force field that protects her castle (Michelle Williams). Oz falls for the goody-goody as they plot a smoke-and-mirrors plan to take back Emerald City from a bunch of flying baboons.
Franco is woefully weak as Oz, delivering wooden line readings and generally lacking the charisma to play the eccentric, zany wizard. The film's CGI talking monkey is more alive than Franco.
Director Sam Raimi, who worked with Franco in the original Spider Man trilogy, does his best to deliver an eye-popping spectacular, but he's stuck with a lethargic script that doesn't dish up the razzle-dazzle until the final 15 minutes.
In the hands of Robert Downey Jr. or Johnny Depp, “Oz” could been something to behold. But with Franco, it simply fizzles out. Oz misses the Final Cut with a less-than-stellar score of 70 percent.
If you're going to disregard my advice and see “Oz” anyway, I'm hurt, but I'd also recommend getting to the theater early – “Oz” is going to do boffo business at the box office.
“Oz” is the first true blockbuster of the year and it appeals to the young, the old, the in-between. Hollywood calls it a four quadrant film: everyone is covered. As such, I am bullish on oz with an enormous $90 million opening.
Warner Bros. bomb “Jack the Giant Slayer” is in second after a more disastrous opening weekend than Disney's dud “John Carter.”
“Identity Thief” continues stealing cash from moviegoers’ wallets - over $100 million and counting.
And the weekend's other new offering, “Dead Man Down” is DOA in fourth.