News Column

'Wizard' in 3-D lacks brains, heart

September 19, 2013


Sept. 19--Forget about going off to see "The Wizard" this week. About two years ago, I called for a boycott of 3-D films with a few exceptions ("Cave of Forgotten Dreams," "Life of Pi" and the upcoming spectacle "Gravity" are among them). According to industry trends, more and more American moviegoers are heeding my advice. I now advise readers to boycott the so-called IMAX 3-D showing of "The Wizard of Oz" at AMC Loews Boston Common, starting today for a supposed one-week run.

Warner Bros., the studio that owns the rights to this beloved children's classic, a 1939 MGM release frequently named as one of the 10 greatest films ever made, has subjected it to a 3-D conversion, an often dubious process that some people have reasonably equated- with the colorization of classic black-and-white films. At first, I believed this 3-D "Wizard of Oz" might be a good way to introduce a new generation to this L. Frank Baum-based classic, featuring Judy Garland in her signature role of Dorothy Gale, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West and the unforgettable music of Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. But I've since had serious second thoughts about letting Warner Bros. get away with doing this to one of the world's favorite films.

Moreover, AMC Loews Boston Common has an under-sized IMAX theater in comparison to, say, the New England Aquarium's full-size IMAX theater, and yet AMC Loews Boston Common charges a hefty IMAX premium. If you pay to see this interfered-with version of "The Wizard of Oz" at the undersized AMC Loews Boston Common, it will cost you anywhere from $13 to $18.50.

The film can also be seen in full-size IMAX 3-D at Jordan's Furniture in Reading and Natick.

That's a whole lot of Yellow Brick Road to see a classic film in a form unapproved of by the artists who created it, if you ask me. Are you willing to pay top dollar to see an altered "Wizard of Oz"? I'm not.

Yes, Disney cleaned up with its 3-D conversion of "The Lion King." But that is an animated film, and animated films make the best 3-D experience in general. "The Wizard of Oz" is live-action. Do we want it to look like the remake of "The Clash of the Titans" or the recent murky-looking "Oz the Great and Powerful" for that matter? What's next? A 3-D IMAX "Citizen Kane," "Ben-Hur," "Lawrence of Arabia" or "The Godfather"? Why didn't WB also colorize the first half of "Oz" while they were at it?

What a world!


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