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Surrender, Kansas – ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is coming

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, March 3, 2013, at 12:06 a.m.

Get ready, Kansas, because we’re about to hear more Oz references with the opening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” on Friday.

The film imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character, following dubious Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician, when he is hurled away from dusty (of course it’s dusty) Kansas to the vibrant land of Oz. Yes, via a nasty twister.

When he gets there, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Fame and fortune are his for the taking, as everyone thinks he is a great wizard sent to restore their land to peace and tranquility as told in a prophecy. But then he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not all convinced that he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting.

Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing Oz, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil. Using his magical arts skills, he transforms himself not only into a great and powerful wizard, but into a better man, as well.

Directed by Sam Raimi, the film was made under tight scrutiny and had troubles during production (Raimi reportedly butted heads with composer Danny Elfman). But the trailers look visually amazing. With a budget of $200 million, expect the film to be super-heavy on CGI effects.

And don’t expect to see any remnants of the original “Wizard of Oz” film. Backing studio Disney apparently had to be very careful to avoid using MGM-owned aspects of the Oz story (such as the ruby slippers).

Perhaps that means we won’t hear – well, you know.

Seeing Supers – The trailers for Zach Snyder’s reboot of Superman, “Man of Steel,” suggest a darkly serious take on the superhero.

The film’s look and tone have been drawing comparisons to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. While Snyder is already known for his visually striking style, after “300,” “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch,” some were afraid that he was abandoning his own technique to emulate Nolan’s.

But movie website JoBlo says the trailers are a bit misleading, as told by a “reliable source” who has seen an early version of the film.

This unnamed source says this about “Man of Steel”:

• Imagine a Nolan story with Snyder effects/action.

• It’s the best movie of the year.

• There’s TONS of action with Superman.

• The cape is CG’d most of the time so it can look awesome.

• It’s not nearly as dour and serious as the trailers suggest.

Granted, this guy could be just a salivating fanboy (hence the “best” movie of the year), but it’s still interesting to hear early feedback.

The film stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe.

It won’t open in theaters until June 14, so I have plenty of time to wash my Superman underwear. Kidding! I don’t have any.

Really.

Examining a director – The Tallgrass Filmmakers Lab will present a workshop examining the work of acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, led by Wichitan Nick Pope, co-director of Tallgrass programming.

The class will be held at House of Schwan, 3636 N. Comotara, and is free, though advance RSVP is required by e-mailing amber@tallgrassfilmfest.com or by calling 316-303-9292.

After only six feature films and more than a dozen Oscar nominations, Anderson has become one of the most celebrated filmmakers of the last 20 years, with such stunning films as “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood” and last year’s “The Master.”

For more information, go to www.tallgrassfilmfest.com.

Reach Rod Pocowatchit at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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