Franco’s ‘Oz’ lacks necessary magnetism
This week’s new DVD releases range from the magic of “Oz” to the comedy of Pryor.
• “Oz the Great and Powerful,” Grade B-minus: A look at how the Wizard came to the Emerald City. James Franco stars.
Sam Raimi shows flashes of brilliance. But overall, the latest trip down the Yellow Brick Road has a few too many bumps to make this a magical journey. Visually, the film is stunning, from the black-and-white footage to the brilliant colors of the Emerald City. Where Raimi seems uncertain is with the special effects.
The biggest problem is Franco. Oz needs to be played as both a cad and a charmer, and Franco never fully plays either. He just doesn’t have the larger-than-life charisma to make Oz the great and powerful character he should be. Watching Franco is like going to see a stage production of “Wicked” and the stand-in’s stand-in is playing the role of the Wizard for the night. No matter how good the production, there’s just something missing.
• “Snitch,” Grade C-minus: Father makes deal to keep his innocent son out of jail. Dwayne Johnson stars.
There is a massive Rock in the way of “Snitch” being the movie it wants to be – a thought-provoking story about the ills of the legal system. The casting of Johnson as a worried father who becomes a drug runner to get his son out of prison immediately suggests that this is another explosive action film. Wrong! There’s some action, but it comes along in the last act – far too late to wake those who have nodded off and are dreaming of a better movie.
Johnson turns in his best acting performance in “Snitch,” but it’s a valiant effort in a losing battle. Someone should have spilled the beans to director Ric Roman Waugh that Johnson wasn’t the right choice for this role.
• “No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert,” Grade B-plus: Fans of Richard Pryor can now pick up 12 hours of comedy through this set that includes seven CDs and two DVDs. It’s a wonderful yardstick of Pryor’s growth, from his early days of stand-up to his eventual domination of the comedy world.
The material includes comedy from Pryor from 1966-1992, two hours of previously unreleased stand-up performances and rare recordings from the Pryor archives. Films in the set are “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert” (1979), “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip” (1982) and “Richard Pryor … Here and Now” (1983).
Also included are photos, multiple essays, celebrity tributes, a discography, a filmography and a personal note penned by Richard’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor.
Also new on DVD:
“The Newsroom: The Complete First Season”: Jeff Daniels stars in this behind-the-scenes look at television news.
“Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters”: Siblings become bounty hunters after an incident at a gingerbread house.
“Doctor Who: Inferno”: The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) is concerned about a top-secret project that involves drilling into the crust of the Earth.
“Power Rangers Super Samurai: Secret of the Red Ranger – Volume 4”: Includes four episodes along with two music videos.
“Betty & Coretta”: Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett star in the cable film about the women who played a huge part in the American Civil Rights Movement.
“Major Crimes: The Complete First Season”: Cable police drama starring Mary McDonnell.
“Killing Lincoln”: Tom Hanks narrates this look at the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
“The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Third Season”: The classic TV comedy is available on Blu-ray.
“I Want My Name Back”: Story of the Sugarhill Gang.
“Fred Won’t Move Out”: Elliott Gould and Judith Roberts star in this drama about a family at a breaking point.
“Enter the Dragon 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition”: The martial arts film starring Bruce Lee has been remastered for its 40th anniversary.
“Mighty Messes”: Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder star in six cleanup-themed episodes.
“Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Third Season”: Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star.
“Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil”: The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) must deal with problems at a prison.
“House of Cards: The Complete First Season”: Hard-edged political thriller starring Kevin Spacey.
“Transformers Rescue Bots: Energize”: Five adventures starring the shape-shifting crew.
“Beverly Lewis’ the Confession”: An Amish woman’s journey lands her in a mystery that must be solved before she can be reunited with her mother.
“Perry Mason: The Ninth and Final Season: Volume One”: Raymond Burr plays the winning TV attorney.
“Ring of Fire”: A volcanic eruption could lead to a world disaster. Terry O’Quinn stars.