by Jessica Marshall
Disney's "Oz the Great and Powerful" hits theaters this week and we are so off to see the wizard.
"Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi helms this "Wizard of Oz" prequel in which James Franco plays a younger, hotter version of Oz, the powerful man behind the curtain, back in the days when he was just a womanizing circus magician from Kansas. When he gets swept away in a tornado to a mystical world whose inhabitants are convinced he's a wizard sent to save them from ruin, he has to prove that he's more than just a two-bit huckster. Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis co-star as the witches of Oz, who by turns help, thwart and woo him.
But before you check out of Kansas for that somewhere over the rainbow, here are five things you should do to prepare yourself for "Oz the Great and Powerful."
Watch "The Wizard of Oz"
The 1939 technicolor tale of the plucky gingham-wearing girl who gets swept away to a magical land of munchkins, flying monkeys and yellow brick roads has captivated audiences for more than 70 years. "Oz the Great and Powerful" is meant to be a prequel to this beloved film, so prime yourself for some more primate aviation and more ogling of Oscar "Oz" Diggs with a viewing. And if you're feeling brave, follow it up with a screening of the irrationally terrifying 1985 sequel, "Return to Oz." (Or don't.)
Go see "Wicked"
This hit Broadway musical is still making the rounds after almost 10 years on stage. Its catchy music and fun plot detail the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West in the land of Oz before Dorothy and her little dog come along. If you can't make it to the theater, read the book it was based on (Gregory Maguire's "Wicked") or listen to the soundtrack, featuring the vocal stylings of Kristin Chenoweth and "Glee" alum Idina Menzel.
Go "Gingham Style"
Channel your inner Dorothy Gale and don some blue gingham when you head to the theater. The iconic fabric makes a cameo in "Oz the Great and Powerful" too, proving that it still hasn't gone out of style. And while you're at it, throw on a pair of ruby slippers. You know, for the trip home after the movie.
Learn a magic trick
Practical magic and sleight-of-hand come in very handy for the would-be wizard in "Oz." While you probably won't need to outwit any wicked witches anytime soon, you can certainly impress your friends with a little card trick—or if that fails to impress, a disappearing act.
Go for a hot air balloon ride
Oz narrowly escapes a serious beat-down by jumping into a hot air balloon during the film, only to get caught in the tornado that transports him to Oz. Despite major turbulence during the storm, the view is breathtaking. This is definitely a bucket-list-worthy activity—even though the real world doesn't quite have the same glitter as the computer-generated landscape of Oz, a view from the basket of a hot air balloon will be well worth it. Just make sure you check the weather before taking flight.