Critics Consensus: Oz the Great and Powerful Looks Good But Lacks Magic

Plus, Dead Man Down's great cast struggles to rise above the film's absurd plot.

This week at the movies, we've got a wonderful wizard (Oz the Great and Powerful, starring James Franco and Mila Kunis) and a pair of avengers (Dead Man Down, starring Noomi Rapace and Colin Farrell). What do the critics have to say?

Oz the Great and Powerful

59%

Few films could hope to match the influence and popularity of The Wizard of Oz, so it was probably a wise move for director Sam Raimi to forge a different path down the Yellow Brick Road with Oz the Great and Powerful, a prequel to the 1939 classic. Whether he was successful is a different matter; some critics find this Oz to be a witty visual phantasmagoria, while others say it suffers from so-so storytelling and inconsistent performances. James Franco stars as a roguish carnival magician who finds himself transported to a magical world. There, he meets a trio of witches and is treated like a king. Can our hero summon the courage and smarts to bring peace to the land of Oz? The pundits say that while Oz the Great and Powerful is often entertaining and always fun to look at, its plot is relatively bland and surprisingly short on magic. (Check out our interviews with Raimi and the stars of Oz, as well as this week's Total Recall, in which we count down star Michelle Williams's best-reviewed movies.)

Dead Man Down

37%

Buoyed by the success of the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, director Niels Arden Oplev and star Noomi Rapace re-team for the neo-noirish crime thriller Dead Man Down. Unfortunately, critics say it's a cut blow their previous collaboration; while the fine cast keeps the movie watchable throughout, it's is weighted down by absurd plot twists and a slack pace. Seeking revenge for the murder of his wife and child, Victor (Colin Farrell) infiltrates a criminal organization with the intention of killing the boss. However, Victor's also being blackmailed by a mysterious woman (Rapace), who needs his help to settle a score of her own. The pundits say Rapace and Farrell are compelling, but Dead Man Down is too ponderous and clichéd to work as a whole.(Check out Rapace's Five Favorite Films here.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Silence, a thriller about a pair of eerily similar crimes that haunt the residents of a small German town, is at 100 percent.
  • Electrick Children, a coming-of-age drama about a sheltered teenager who flees her family for the big city, is at 83 percent.
  • The Romanian drama Beyond The Hills, about a young woman who attempts to convince a childhood friend to leave her orthodox religious community, is at 81 percent.
  • Michel Gondry's The We and the I, a comedy about a diverse group of high school students on a bus home from the last day of school, is at 80 percent.
  • Greedy Lying Bastards, a documentary about corporate and political resistance to climate change legislation, is at 80 percent.
  • Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey, a concert doc about the venerable hard rock group and its new singer, is at 68 percent.
  • The Monk, starring Vincent Cassel in a gothic fantasy about a friar who gives in to temptation after meeting a newcomer to the monastery, is at 67 percent.
  • The ABCs of Death, a horror anthology featuring a scary short for each letter of the alphabet, is at 48 percent.
  • Emperor, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox in a period drama about the United States' post-World War II Occupation of Japan, is at 41 percent.
  • Gut Renovation, a documentary about the gentrification of Brooklyn, is at 29 percent.

Finally, props to Matthew Reimer for coming the closest to guessing The Last Exorcism Part II's 14 percent Tomatometer.

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