This paragraph is for people who don't want to know anything about The Great and Powerful Oz. My mini-review is pretty much spoiler free though.

Last night I went to see The Great And Powerful Oz in IMax 3-D. It's a really good film. I could have done with less of Braff's Finlay, but even he ends up feeling like a well-rounded and sympathetic character by the end (less so for Nook, who seemed completely out-of-place). Raimi has an eye for the kind of old-school goofiness that made the original so charming, and he manages to blend shots straight out of 30s melodramas with 3D visual gags seamlessly. In fact, I would say that it's one of the best uses of 3D I've seen. He doesn't shy away from using the old things-flying-at-you gag, but he lets his horror roots out and makes the whole thing such a visceral experience that it never feels like a gimmick. (Those roots also show in the creature design, with the flying monkeys in particular scarier than anything I've seen in a big-budget blockbuster for quite a while.) If you haven't seen it yet, but intend to, I highly recommend seeing it in 3D. Raimi spends a little time playing with the tech, and I imagine those scenes will fall very flat (if you'll excuse the pun) in 2D.

The script is not without it's problems, but the 4 leads really commit to the parts and suck you in. Franco could easily have been swamped by the three outstandingly fun witches, (they really are incredibly engaging), but this is really a role he's born to play. He plays the con-man with a heart of gold so sincerely, and so naturally that you forget it's something of a hoary old cliche, and just buy it.

Unfortunately, all of the technical wizardry and masterful artistry on display in Oz was completely overshadowed by 5 minutes of footage from a 20-year old movie made for less than a quarter of the budget.

Before Oz started, we were treated to the Flashlight+T-Rex+Jeep scene from Jurassic Park, in full IMax 3D. Even though our theater didn't even dim the lights, the scene lost none of it's power. It was just as scary and tense as it was 20 years ago. The dinosaur looked fantastic, and the soundtrack is still one of the best ever. The 3D conversion has been done really well. No gimmicks, no "improvements" just a simple addition of depth. It genuinely adds something to the scene, which is rare for this kind of conversion. The rain feels like it's beating down all around you, and the TRex is in the goddamn room. If the rest of the conversion is as good as that one scene, it's going to be an incredible experience. Jurassic Park is (IMO) an oft-overlooked Spielberg, either due to over-familiarity or its less 'serious' nature, and it's easy to forget just how good it is, how well-paced and how tense those scenes are. (It's also pretty incredible how well the special effects hold up... the advantage of practical over CG I guess). The few minutes of 3D footage we saw brought that all back, and I've gone from being uninterested in the re-release to really, genuinely excited for it.


p.s. IMAX never has very many trailers, I think because most trailers aren't formatted for the aspect-ratio, so the only other thing we got was the Iron Man 3 trailer in 3D. It's a trailer that I like, although it doesn't seem to quite be sure of what it's selling, but it wasn't improved at all by the addition of 3D. I don't think I'll be paying the extra there.