While I would in no way claim that this was a perfect film... I gotta say it was a mighty good effort. Myself, I think Frank Baum would have approved, had he ever DREAMED of writing a "prequel" instead of the many sequels that he did write.
I read that Johnny Depp had been approached to play the lead, but he declined... saying that he was concerned that this project would not work out well. It's something of a shame, because while James Franko did well enough in the role, Depp could have played it to perfection.
Now as to casting, I was VERY impressed at the 3 witches in the story. Evanora, Theodora and Glinda all played their roles nicely and believably. Mila Kunis as Theodora was absolutely wonderful. I don't want to spoil the story, because I thik it was very well written all around... but Theodora was a most striking character, trust me.
Regarding the special effects, I was totally blown away by the "Little China Girl." Every bit of the movie that concerned her was a wonder to behold. The monkey that pledged fealty to Oz left a LOT to be desired. They gave him a few close-ups and that was a major mistake, I thought. But over all, his part was rather minor, so I wasn't too concerned.
The story itself had some interesting similarities and connections to "The Wizard." Just like in the original, the black-and-white prologue had several characters that were echoed in the main body. The trip through the tornado was very cool to watch, as was Oz's arrival over the rainbow. The adventures that followed, the struggle of a carney-show trickster against powerful witches, and the development of Oz from a con-man into a needed leader was very entertaining to watch.
I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Highly recommended for everyone. Go watch this film... then run home and queue up "The Wizard" I think they will go very well together indeed.
The only minor beef I had with the story was that at the end they could have EASILY included a bit about the Ruby Slippers. Would have been a PERFECT "stinger" to add after the credits.
They didn't -- SHAME ON YOU, Sam Raimi!!