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on July 9, 2004
"Return to Oz" is one of those rare movies that captures your heart and truly makes you believe in magic. To this day, it still hasn't let my heart go! This amazing, underrated film is a real Hollywood gem. Buy it, and you will surely treasure it forever.
Of course, that depends on your expectations of this trip to Oz. Although there are no sugary sweet characters bouncing about singing and dancing, there is an abundance of subtle beauty in the ways of costume and set design. Instead of the cutesy munchkins and radiant Glinda, there are the horrible Wheelers and the pretty-yet-terrifying Princess Mombi. Additionally, there are some scenes (i.e. the Hall of Heads, the Deadly Desert, the Nome King Showdown, etc.) that may frighten young children (it scared me, but I love the movie nonetheless). The point is, like many movies, you'll enjoy "Return to Oz" if you go in open-minded and ready for anything. :)
This movie and the 1939 musical classic were produced by two different companies, with different budgets, different set managers, different actors, different screenwriters, and different directors. It just so happens that "The Wizard of Oz" was an enormous hit during the "Golden Age" of movies (esp. musicals) and has remained a family favorite ever since. Any follow up to such a successful movie is going to be criticized unless it is even better than the "original." A large number of fans enjoy "Return to Oz" so much because it parallels L. Frank Baum's original stories closer than the Judy Garland adaptation.
Please don't get me wrong--I adore each and every aspect of "The Wizard." I just like "Return to Oz" as well and feel it is worthy of a second glance/chance. Try it and see for yourself. I'm sure there will be something about it that you will never forget! :)
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on February 12, 2004
The latest release of "Return to OZ" (a re-release despite Disney saying it's new to DVD on the box) is a mixed blessing. While it's nice to have an anamorphic transfer of the film, the film itself is a disappointing transfer. At least the Anchor Bay version wasn't filled with scratches and dirt as this Dsiney reissue of the film is. Also, I couldn't pick a chapter by pressing a number on the remote but had to hit the forward button to get to the one I wanted. This wasn't a problem with the Anchor Bay version but is on the Disney one. On the other hand, the Disney version has a few more extras than the old release. Besides the short featurette that was on the old release, we have a trailer and some tv spots. The trailer is alright but why bother with those tv spots when they are in such lousy condition. They were pieced together from various sources (most look like 2nd-3rd generation video copies complete with timecode). Anyway, if you have the Anchor Bay version of "Return to Oz", hold on to it but if you want a version that'll fit your widescreen televisions, get the Disney DVD of the film.
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on December 8, 2009
I had watched this on CBC when I was a kid and my mom had videotaped it for me. I was obsessed with everything to do with the Wizard of Oz (the film with Judy Garland) and I think it was celebrating it's 40th anniversary (it was 1989). Anyway, it's a very imaginative story about what happens after Dorothy returns back to Kansas; no one believes her that she went anywhere and she has difficulty sleeping. Being around the turn of the 20th Century, Electricity is a cure-all, so she's taken to a Hospital for a procedure (I gather they were going to do an early form of electro-shock treatment). She escapes with a girl she meets there who keeps finding her and is transported back to Oz. Oz since she left has been in a bad state and it's up to her to go to the new leader, the Gnome King and bring back Scarecrow, the rightful leader of Oz.
It is very imaginative for kids to watch. I believe I was about 4 or 5 when I first saw it and I recently watched it with my husband, who found it to be really well done. It does have some scary scenes in it, but nothing violent.
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on May 25, 2004
My dad helped me order this DVD of my favourite movie, and even though it was "out of stock", I STILL GOT IT IN 1 WEEK FROM WHEN I ORDERED IT!! Iwas SO excited!! The movie was fantastic, the music is brilliant, and the Menu is excellent. when you play this movie, it first ask 'would tou like to see this in Full-frame or Widescreen?" - I pick the Widescreen - and then just before the opening credits of the movie, Fairuza Balk (now grown-up, 1999) says Hi to us and comments on us seeing the movie. The Ruby Slippers were SO BEAUTIFUL - MUCH BETTER THAN MGM!! And teh Emearld City was PERFECT!! The music sounds like a mix-up of the Neverending Story, the Worst Witch and a bit of Pokemon. You can really hear the violins/fiddles in the music. The picture of the movie was SO CLEAR and COLOURFUL too.
The Main Menu came up after the movie finished and has the best effect by a rotating OZ symbol and flashing the faces of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, Toto, Dorothy's friends and the wicked people.
The "Fairuza Returns to Oz" Interview is 1999 and she talks about what it was like for her to be in the movie, talking about the Special Effects, Director Walter Murch, Cast, the Parade Scene and the other things releated to the movie - like how people asked "where's the video?" and such. We don't see any flashbacks to the movie in the interview, we only see her face.
However, I'm disappointed that this DVD did NOT include the THEATRICAL TRAILER, something I was really looking forward to. I'm aslo a bit disappointed that Glinda wasn't in this movie, asd she appeared in both the 'Marvelous land" and "Ozma" books. I LOVE this movie and I ENJOYED the DVD.
At the moment, I'm working on a letter to Disney Studios about making a "Disney's return to Oz: 20th Anniversary Edition" DVD for 2005. I hoep they approve of this and agree to make it, being disappointed at teh 2004 DVD - which I don't have.
Hope you enjoyed my DVD Review.
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on January 5, 2004
L. Frank Baum would be very happy with this movie in my opinion. This movie is based so much on the books and Disney did a good job staying with the storylines in "Ozma of Oz" and "The Land of Oz."
This movie was one of my childhood favorites even though I admit it is a little on the dark side! But it is a great film that in my opinion could be considered a classic.
Join Dorothy, Billinia, Jack, Tik-Tok, the Gump, and some old favorites on a journey back to Oz!
This should not be compared to the original as it is a movie all on its own. The original "Wizard of Oz" is a timeless claasic and this movie is often not recognized for its greatness because so many people want to compare it.
Enjoy this film for what it is and please use no comparisons and I think you will find it very enjoyable!
This movie is great and I highly recommend owning it if you are an Oz fan!
I have to admit I was a tad disapointed that there were not many DVD extras but there is a new edition coming out in February "04" so I will be waiting for that edition as well! Maybe it will contain more extras! :-)
This is a movie that has been misunderstood throughout the years but when not compared and just enjoyed, it is in a league all of its own! Enjoy! :-)
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on October 7, 2003
Return To Oz is such an underrated sequel to The Wizard Of Oz. Being a child of the 80's I can honestly say that I watched this movie over and over again and can remember going with my parents to see it in the theater when I was 5 years old and being utterly frightened, enthralled and just blown away by this fantasy adventure film. The movie is one of the most dark and haunting childrens films out there. I was babysitting a year ago and put this on for a 3 year old little girl and a 7 year old little boy and had bad results from them-They were freaked out and I had to turn the movie, this isnt a movie I would recomend to young children who arent used to seeing creepy images (The wheelers might just torment a kids nightmares for months after seeing this)...But, this truly is an epic classic that many 80's kids will probably say was one of there favorites alongside Labyrinth and Goonies while growing up. If you have never seen this emotive depiction of Oz than you should definetly rent this movie or buy it! Adults and kids over a certain age will all love this movie.
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on August 18, 2003
Forget Judy Garland in 1939, move over 'cause Faruzia Balk is a all fingers and thumbs up Dorothy. This isn't a musical and a darker sequel to The Wizard of Oz. I mean forget it!
Faruzia Balk is a 10-year-old Dorothy Gale, (though in 1st she was 12, but who cares)? And it's 1889, and Dorothy's Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are going to put her in for shock therpy.Luckily, she escapes. With a female compainion, Ozma. And so, she gets to Oz by Chicken Coop, and finds that all is lost.
Like, the yellow brick road, muckinland, the emerald city! Which is under the rule of Princess Mombi, with her slaves--The Wheelers! She meets 4 new freinds. Billina, a talking chicken, Jack Pumpkinhead,The Gump,and Tik Tok.
And so, she tries to find it's ruler--The scarecrow. But the gnome king took him as prisnor or an "ordiment." So, they have to find him, and just watch the movie.
But, you gotta love the end with the victory parade song. So whoever said it's to scary, maybe some parts are kinda juvenile, but so what? The Wicked Witch used to scare us 3 year olds too!
If you're a really, real lover of The Wizard of Oz. Trust me, you'll hate this film. If your really, really, not a fan, you'll love it. Toto is diffrent by-the-way.
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on July 26, 2003
Film editor extraordinaire Walter Murch has only one film to his credit as a director, this one, and it's quite good. Perhaps in another 30 years when most of us have died off and the movie can be viewed without the inevitable comparisons to the more famous Judy Garland vehicle, RETURN TO OZ will be seen in proper perspective, namely an attempt to show L. Frank Baum's creation as he might have done it if HE'D been a movie director instead of a writer.
One caveat; For a supposed fairy tale, it IS a slightly darker vision that's shown in this movie than a young child might be comfortable with. There are scenes showing some of the questionable medical practices of the late 19th century which are very scary and I could see 6-year-olds having nightmares about them. There are also the Wheelers, who are at least as frightning as the flying monkeys were in the 1939 WIZARD OF OZ. Jean Marsh, however, is not as scary a wicked witch as Margaret Hamilton was, so that leavens things somewhat. Fairuza Balk, in her first film, makes a very charming Dorothy, and Piper Laurie and Nicol Williamson are well-cast in their supporting roles.
The DVD transfer itself leaves something to be desired. The first ten minutes of the film are marred by very apparent dustspecks and scratches on the transferred print; you'd have thought that, budget DVD or not, some care might have been taken in this regard. Extras are few and badly-positioned; there are no scene-selection menues and if you had no prior knowledge that there is a ten-minute interview with Fairuza Balk right after the closing credits, you'd miss it entirely. The sound transfer and mastering, however, is excellent and once you get past that first scratchy ten minutes, everything looks and sounds great.
This is a piece of Eighties filmmaking which, hopefully, will get a new lease on life on the big screen after a few more decades roll by. American Film Institute, take note!
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on July 23, 2003
I'm a huge Oz fan. I own all of Baum's Oz books and I've read them all numerous times. I've practically memorized the script of the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie. If I haven't convinced you that I'm obsessed, I even have an Oz cookbook! But I've only seen Return to Oz once, and I don't want to see it again.
The overall tone of the movie is way too dark for Oz, even though it seems as though it was intended to be a sequel to the 1939 Wizard of Oz. The whole insane asylum/electric shock treatment concept is rediculous, not to mention unbelievable. Why would Dorothy be considered insane for believing in Oz? She's only a little girl.
Other reviewers seem to think that Return to Oz is based on an actual story by L. Frank Baum. It's really a combination of two books, The Marvelous Land of Oz, and Ozma of Oz. But the two storylines are mixed together, and they're completely unlike either book. It's as if the writers of this movie never even read the books.
If you're a fan of the Wizard of Oz, the movie, and you want "more of Oz", don't waste your money on Return to Oz. Instead, I would recommend reading Baum's books.
It's really no wonder Return to Oz wasn't as successful as The Wizard of Oz was.
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on April 30, 2003
One of the big trends of the 80's was the seemingly endless trend of half-baked sequels, remakes and other assorted attempts to "improve" what was already recognized as perfect (remember the new coke?). Perhaps that was why so many people dismissed Disney's sequel to the 1939 film. "The Wizard of Oz." It is a shame that "Return to Oz" did not get the exposure it was due, because it is a great movie.
Fairuza Balk was exceptional as Dorothy. She was the right age for the character (Judy Garland, talented as she was, was considerably older than the Dorothy of the books). More importantly though, she was everything a child star should be. Her Drorthy was brave, compassionate and enjoyable, without a trace of the cloying "cutsieness" or smart aleckiness many child actors demonstrate. The supporting characters, particularly Brian Henson's Jack Pumpkinhead, were not only excellent, but very true to the original books. The special effects that went into bringing them to life hold up very well today, excpet for Billina, the yellow hen, who is obviously mechanical. Her wit and pluck make her a very enjoyable character anyway though.
Some have said that this movie is too scary for kids, which really makes no sense. The scary parts of the movie; the wheelers, the gnome king, the deadly desert that turns people to sand, the witch Mombi, the princess who changes her head to suit her whims and threatens to take Dorothy's, all of these were created by L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Oz series. They have lived in his books for almost 100 years, and will probably outlive us all. When did these elements suddenly become "too scary" for children?
My complaints about the movie are few. For one thing, when Dorothy arrives in Oz she passes by her old house and then, in the next scene, arrvies at the Emerald City. Later she looks out from one of the city's towers and sees the desert surrounding Oz. This gives the impression that Oz is about four square miles. Second, Dorothy notes that the deadly desert will turn anyone who touches it into sand. When did she learn this? Because reference is made to the ruby slippers, we can assume this is a sequal to the 1939 movie and not the book (which featured silver shoes), but when was this fact revealed in the movie? This latter detail is a bit of a nit pick I admit.
Overall there is much to recommend in "Return to Oz." Do not watch it expecting to relive the 1939 picture. Instead, try to appreciate it for its own merits.
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