There was a great deal of hype surrounding Oz the Great and Powerful when it was released in cinemas - but it falls just short of the mark.
It’s certainly an all-star cast with James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Zach Braff all billed.
So the expectation is there that this is going to be great.
The premise is simple - it’s the prequel to the well-loved story, The Wizard of Oz.
Small-time circus magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is booed off stage in 1905 Kansas and finds himself in hot water with the resident strongman.
Bidding a hasty farewell to his sweetheart Annie (Michelle Williams), who is poised to marry another man, Oscar escapes in a hot air balloon.
The canopy is sucked into an approaching tornado and Oscar crash-lands in a wondrous realm, where ancient prophecy decrees that a wizard will fall from the sky and reign benevolently over Oz.
Beautiful witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) accompanies Oscar to the Emerald City, where her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and the other denizens live in fear of the wicked witch Glinda (Michelle Williams).
“I’m not too keen on killing a woman,” stutters the magician.
“She’s not a woman, she’s a wicked witch,” Evanora reminds him.
In an affectionate nod to The Wizard Of Oz, Sam Raimi’s lavish prequel opens in black and white and only flushes the screen with vibrant colour once the story moves to the magical realm of flying monkeys and munchkins. Oz The Great And Powerful is a visual treat, especially in eye-popping 3D available exclusively on Blu-ray.
The film follows the template of the recent re-imaging of Alice In Wonderland, bombarding our retinas with outlandish set pieces. Visual trickery comes at the expense of plot and characterisation.
Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire’s script boasts a few snappy one-liners but it’s perilously flimsy and the 125-minute running time is unwieldy.
Performances are muted, especially Franco, who bumbles through his scenes as if he is making up dialogue on the spot.
Oz the Great And Powerful is available now.
Extras include a number of featurettes including interviews, mini-documentaries and a blooper reel.