Oz the Great And Powerful (Cert PG, 125 mins, Disney DVD, Fantasy/Action/Romance, also available to buy .
Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz
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). 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.
Cloud Atlas (Cert 15, 168 mins, Warner Home Video, Drama/Sci-Fi/Romance/Action.
Starring: Doona Bae, Halle Berry, James D’Arcy, Hugh Grant, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon
In 1849, lawyer Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) discovers a slave called Autua (David Gyasi) stowed aboard a ship bound for America from the Chatham Islands. In 1936 Cambridge, musician Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) bids farewell to his lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) to head to Edinburgh where he will work alongside famous composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent). In 1973 California, crusading journalist Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) meets an ageing Rufus in a lift, and is drawn into a deadly mystery involving the elderly nuclear physicist and a hit man called Bill Smoke (Hugo Weaving). In present-day London, 65-year-old publisher Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent) falls victim to a vicious prank and becomes trapped in a care home run by the sadistic Nurse Noakes (Weaving). In 2144 Neo Seoul, genetically engineered fast-food worker Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) escapes the bonds of servitude and goes on the run with rebel Hae-Joo Chang (Sturgess). In 2321, Zachry (Hanks) agrees to help technologically advanced visitor Meronym (Berry) head into the mountains to find the Cloud Atlas communication station. In the far future, these stories gradually knit together... Bold ambition shimmers in every frame of Cloud Atlas, a chronologically fractured adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel. The multi-layered narrative ricochets between timeframes in which a starry cast adopts myriad guises.