Oz the Great and Powerful, rated PG
Sam Raimi, the filmmaker behind the Spiderman films and The Evil Dead (1981), directs this prequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which a young magician (James Franco) travels to the land of Oz, where he meets witches Glinda (Michelle Williams), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Theodora (Mila Kunis). Considering the cast and filmmakers behind this picture, Oz the Great and Powerful looks much better than the recent slew of fairy tale reinventions. Based on the trailer, the opening of the film looks very intriguing, as it was shot in black and white and in aspect ratio 1:33:1 (the trailer shows the shift from black and white to color as Franco enters Oz, and the frame widens to 2:35:1).
The Croods, rated PG
Although I know little about the latest animated film effort from DreamWorks Animation, The Croods offers a great voice cast (Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman) as a family of cavemen and cavewomen venturing out of their comfort zone. I suspect this film might be one of the great animated surprises of the year.
42, rated PG-13
Brian Helgeland, who wrote the outstanding Mystic River (2003) and L.A. Confidential (1997), is bringing the true story of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson back to the screen (Robinson played himself in 1950’s The Jackie Robinson Story). Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson and Harrison Ford co-stars as Branch Rickey, one of the heads of the Brooklyn Dodgers. 42 will likely be one of the highlights of the spring movie season.
Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.