Oz the Great and Powerful

Rated 3.0

As Tim Burton took on Lewis Carroll, so Sam Raimi has a go at L. Frank Baum: under the deadening influence of Disneyfication. It's not Raimi's fault that never again will any movie have the cultural staying power of The Wizard of Oz, but still his quasi-prequel seems to lack perspective. Before becoming the man behind the curtain, he was James Franco, as a Kansas con man with a two-bit carnival magic act. Good idea, theoretically, but Oz as protagonist needs more than the nonpersonality of a perpetually stoned, spread-thin performance artist. To much CGI doesn't help. Over the rainbow and abetted by an orphaned broken-legged porcelain doll and a servile flying monkey with the voice of Zach Braff, he tangles with a trio of variously meddlesome witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams). The thing about Oz-related entertainment properties, which indeed have become abundant over the past century, is the spirit with which they're carried off. Some tornadoes are stronger than others.