103 of 106 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2008
This, the 30th Anniversary release of THE WIZ, is a far improved print from the earlier DVD release. The colors of each scene are bright and crisp, and the graininess has been cleaned a great deal. Included with this edition is a soundtrack CD featuring SOME of the songs from the film. Those expecting the entire soundtrack may be disappointed to see that they only get a small percentage of the original songs.
71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2008
I know I've already reviewed the old DVD, but I would like to have a good read for the Anniversary (even though I'm late for it).
If you've read my old review, you'll notice that I like this movie, even though I agree there could have been some improvements.
"The Wiz" movie was released into cinemas on October 24 1978, so now the film IS over 30 years old.
This New DVD, with a great new cover AND SHINY Slipcase - better than the one I designed in a letter to Universal mentioned in the old review - is both a great gift, and a slight disappointment:
GREAT: As said before the Picture and Sound have been Restored, so that you can see the shots and hear soundtrack more clearly - until now I never even noticed Dorothy/Diana removing her ear-rings upon deciding to kill Evilene! - and the colours certainly do appear CLEANER. You'd be surprised at how much better this new picture is compared to before!
DISAPPOINTMENT: I was hoping to see a slightly wider and longer version of the picture, but close comparison and attention have shown that the image is slightly zoomed in - look at the edges (sides and top/bottom) in the wide shot of Dorothy in her Emerald City Motel room for example, and you'll notice a bit missing. And when we see Dorothy and Toto being transported across the screen from New York to Oz, that is the one time it looks more-or-less the same as the old DVD (despite better detail and cleaner picture).
And as Diana finishes singing "I wish I was . . . " in 'Soon As I Get Home', I noticed how her lips mouth 'home'; Unfortunately, it seems she didn't say 'home' and that moment remains unspoken even in restoration.
Again the Chapter List stays the same: 20 scenes for the opening title, each song and end credits - but here they are presented by 4 screenshots instead of 3 like before.
The Menus, though quiet and simple, do have a bit of animation and Much more Colour to them. MAIN reuses the front cover characters (but rearranged, words appearing in afterwards), while SPECIAL and SET-UP use the back cover movie moments. Again, great English specific subtitles, audio selections are English 5.1 in Dolby and dts, with French 2.0 and subtitles.
When "PLAY" activated, there is a (unavoidable to skip or speed-up) new classification screen and the Universal Logo. When you do see the movie's (old) Universal opening with the Wiz music, you'll be surprised at how well the restoration shows! Unlike last time, there is no 'Universal on DVD' video-promo, and the menu comes up before the movie allowing you to choose what to do first.
Special Features are once again the Trailer and Making-of "Wiz on Down the Road", and unfortunately that's it. Still, they are fun to watch and hear.
Another disk with MORE Special Features (Galleries, music videos, trivia-facts using the old DVD notes, interviews, LOTS of things on the Original Broadway, etc.) would definitely have been welcome and made this DVD a better winner, but . . .
The only other bonus is an 8-track '30th Anniversary Edition Music CD' (inside DVD-case, unattached to anything with own slip-cover) with movie songs "He's the Wiz" by Thelma Carpenter, "You Can't Win" Michael Jackson, "Ease on Down the Road" Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, "Slide Some Oil to Me" Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross' "Mean Ole Lion", Emerald City, the Winkies' "Brand New Day" and "Home" with Diana Ross - some of which are fun and great to listen to.
The front cover of the characters (except Diana, of course) are from/can be seen in "the Wiz Scrapbook", and the Back cover of the DVD and slipcase are the same, except for the area with the barcode and an oval-like shape above the 'Special Features'.
Picture and Sound have been Restored Superbly (despite slight zoom in), and although the Special Features are a downgraded repeat (and slight overstatement) these are still fun videos to watch.
Once again, a very enjoyable DVD for a could-have-been-better movie, a "bad" movie which is still FAR BETTER than that of the 1976 Australian horrified modern-day "OZ (A Rock 'N' Roll Road Movie)" version, terribly unsuitable for children and families!!
Checking out this 30th Anniversary DVD is worth it, for the quality picture and sound, and simply good menus.
Look and . . . See a . . . Brand New Film!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2002
OK, OK...I will admit that I trashed this movie over in the VHS section, but understand my only copy was one that I taped from a television showing and it had been badly butchered (edited) by the network to fit the time slot. So my most recent memory of The Wiz has been this terrible copy of this 1978 musical.
I recently decided to give it another chance to win me over. I purchased the DVD version, and I must admit this new, crisp, complete film with its remastered soundtrack, is a much more watchable and entertaining experience.
We all know the story, Dorothy goes to Oz via whirling snowstorm, meets up with band of misfits who through their harrowing experiences together learn they can all be better than they had ever imagined. And that life can be good no matter where you live.
In the past, the cropped version diminished the entire focus of the story, and made it feel dark, and claustrofobic but now
the Widescreen format greatly enhances the scope of the movie, giving it a more important feel. The color is so much brighter than before that I couldn't believe all the details I had missed that are now clearly visable. The scene where the Munchkins come alive off the Grafitti wall, is really very cool.
There are entire scenes I had forgotten about that are now included, like the one where Dorothy and others are in the OZ motel room talking about having to kill Evilene. I had not seen that one since 1978, and had forgotten it entirely.
I still have problems with some of the performances, and I still believe that it was poorly edited, but all in all I was very impressed with the brand new feel of this movie and if you have not seen it in the DVD format, do so, you will be suprised at the difference. I am now looking forward to seeing it again and again.
The extras on the DVD, are pretty standard, with Trailers and the like. There is a very dated special presentation about the making of the Wiz in which Sidney Lumet discusses his vision of this timeless tale.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2008
If you are a fan of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Disco Music and Broadway Musicals, then this is a must-see film.
Based on the 1975 Broadway show and filmed entirely on location in New York City back in 1977, the film was released in 1978 to mixed reviews. Even though it was not a box-office smash, this film has become somewhat of a cult-classic over the years to millions.
The Quincy Jones-produced score still sounds as fresh today as it did 30 years ago, and the visual effects were way ahead of their time when this film was made.
The film's "Emerald City Sequence" musical number, which featured most of the main cast and hundreds of dancers, was shot in the plaza between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Like so many films that were shot over the years on or near the now "Ground Zero" site in Lower Manhattan, prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, this film may bring back memories of that fateful day. But at the same time it should also be a reminder of how much more at peace the world seemed to be all those years ago.
I have always enjoyed watching this film over the years, but like so many films that we have come to love, that were filmed on that site prior to 9/11, it is sad that even our culture in movies has been tarnished by the events of 9/11 as well.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2000
Boo, hiss to all the naysayers of the one and only 'Wiz'. A few of my friends got together at the DVD store the other night and out of all the available titles settled on this one, primarily for nostaligic reasons. Once we got home and popped it in, well, it was more than just simple sentimentality that carried us off to another world. This musical is awesome. The story is timeless, the songs are unforgettable and the widescreen transfer is excellent. One only wishes for more goodies on the disc.
I often scratch my head at why Sidney Lumet directed this, but knowing that he is one of the top five directors ever who understands New York City, it now makes perfect sense. The location shots are amazing, especially with the massive Albert Whitlock visuals. And as hard as it may be to watch Diana Ross play a 24 year old single woman, she achieves it with simple gestures and that pure, honey voice.
It's a huge treat to watch this movie and I look forward to repeat viewings.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
That's the song that introduces Michael Jackson's Scarecrow in The Wiz! I love this movie. It's cheesey as hell and a camp classic the songs are top notch fair and in some cases beat out the lyrics from The Wizard Of OZ! Just listen to Ms. Ross belt out "Home" or when michael and her team up for "Ease on down the road"! The plot is also fun it takes the premise of the original and places it in New York. The dialogue is great with slang and refrences to black pop culture. Lumet paints the film with a colorful glaze of magic and distress by making the colors pop off the screen and the use of glow in the dark images is astonishing. The soundtrack is also a must buy this film is a complete child's fairy tale and it's beautiful. After hearing "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News" you'll be easing on down the road and humming the tunes for days!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2001
My brother and I used to say that line over and over and laugh ourselves silly. I LOVE THIS MOVIE! The Wiz wasn't made to mirror the Judy Garland classic, although the theme and plot are the same. The Wiz is a funkier, head-bobbing, get up and dance movie that is filled with heart warming and uplifting messages with a universal theme we all can relate to: "Home".
There are so many wonderful things to love about The Wiz. The costumes. The songs. The scenes. The dance numbers. The characters. The location (filmed in New York city? now that's cool!) Nipsey Russell's sassy dance number at the carnival site as he croons, "slide some oil to me!" Then there's Michael's soulful lament, "U Can't Win". It was the ultimate jam that had everyone singing the catchy hook. The bouncing puppets in the subway chase scene is still eerie to this day.
I absolutely LOVED the color schemes at the Emerald City, green to red to gold & the walking Mike was too cute! The score was !beautifully done and Quincy Jones makes a cameo appearance at the keys, all froed-out.
Its funny how people try to compare and criticize this film, when its clear that it was done with music and choreography at the forefront. The styles and time periods are totally different. You can not compare the two which is why this film is called The Wiz and not The Wizard of Oz.
I was nine when I first saw The Wiz and recently saw it again. After all this time it makes me laugh, cry and dance. When Lena Horne sings "If U Believe" it pulls tears from my eyes every time, and who can forget the sweatshop scene. That number is so uplifting it will have you jumping out your seat singing, "Can't you feel a brand new day?" I also loved Ted Ross's poignant number.
In all, The Wiz is a must have for your collection of oldie but goodies. It's timeless, still jams, AND you have to give Miss Ross some credit for being able to "Ease on Down the Road" in those high-heeled si!lver slippers, sporting that curly "blowout"!
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2002
I have to admit I'm impressed with many facets of "The Wiz"; seeing the great Lena Horne singing "If You Believe" is enough. She's still as gorgeous as ever. With the many up 'n coming young Black actresses of the time, it's a shame they used Diana Ross to such poor advantage. In 1978, Debbie Allen or Irene Cara (and I'm sure, many others) could've really kicked some...with the role. Diana proved she could carry a lead role in 1972's "Lady Sings the Blues", but I'm afraid she didn't convince me in this role, though her performance was confident. Michael Jackson is so good at so many things; I'm glad he chose not to make any more narrative films. Nipsey Russell (Tin Man) and Ted Ross (Lion) are wonderful, as is Mabel King (the bad Witch, Evillene). The immensely talented Sidney Lumet directed (12 Angry Men, Serpico, Network), and there's a consistant feeling of angst (I guess, as there should be, but wasn't so prevalent in the original "Wizard of Oz"). The true fantasy element was missing. Most of my comments to this point are perhaps a bit too subjective; it's very hard to review a film musical as recent (?) as this. The last great, successful film musical to this point was Norman Jewison's "Fiddler on the Roof" in '71. For some odd reason, the public lost its interest in great Broadway musicals transferred to the screen. Who can forget the brilliance of "My Fair Lady" or "The King & I"? They still work very well today. Why not "The Wiz" (or "Evita"). I have to agree that they simply don't have the same charm. Could it be George Cukor (My Fair Lady) or Walter Lang (King & I), the old-school, attention-to-detail kind of directors who brought their old-school charm and savvy to those films? Lumet is known for biting satire and gritty drama. "The Wiz" on stage is exhuberant and lively. There's really no social issue involved; "The Wiz", though all-Black, is totally devoid of any sense of racism (another social issue Lumet might've enhanced...and I'm very glad he didn't). "The Wiz" was nominated for 4 Oscars (Cinematography, Sets, Costumes and Adapted Score). I've been wanting to see this for many years and was pleased to find this at the video store on DVD (recently released). This is a worthy film, historically, for the reasons I've mentioned. I don't understand why the closing logo was in a 2.35:1 Letterbox, and the rest of the film was 1.85:1. The price, too, is way out of line, because there are virtually no extras (a trailer and some written character studies...Ross, Jackson, etc. could've been around to give some commentary ...or something...anything). The sets were quite stunning; a wider letterbox would've been appropriate. I would like to have seen the film directed by a less-controversial director...Herbert Ross or even Spielberg...since the most socially conscious issue is a young girl who only wants to go home. The musical adaptation by Quincy Jones was complete and most enjoyable. Do I love this film? No. But I admire so many things about it. See for yourself. Rent it, and, afterwards, decide if you want to buy it. Oh...what happened to the great old Hollywood musical...?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2000
The Wiz. This is a wonderful musical one of my favorites. If you loved the Wizard of Oz you will epecially love this. With Michael Jackson and Diana Ross this play will be one of the best you have ever seen. All of the characters are updated and funky. I recommend this movie to everyone who passes it!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2000
In this very updated version of the well beloved children classic 'The Wizard of Oz', we are transported to a world of music, neat special effects, eye popping costumes and fantastic retelling tale of the wonderful wizard of Oz. No version can compared with the evergreen MGM classic and with that in mind, have an open mind, take in what is given to us and enjoy the ride.Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, this film version combines the talents of pop singers and Broadway stars. Excellent cast.Made in the era of early rise of disco, this all black cast gave an impressive performance of their carreer especially Michael Jackson and Nipsey Russell. Diana Ross seems a liitle out of place at times as a timid school teacher but all is forgiven when she gets to belt out soaring ballads and the hit song, 'Ease On Down The Road'. Music reflects the times and it is pure R & B, disco and some soul.A great mix penned by Charles Small, Quincy Jones, Nikolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Chereographed By Louis Johnson and many of the production numbers are simply brilliant especially The Emerald City Sequence and A Brand New Day which takes place in a warehouse. Costumes were provided by the top designers at the time and it is fabulous. While with all the preceedings, the story is still the same except for minor changes for the role of Dorothy where she is now a 34 years old school teacher. The rest of the characters are the same. This film cleverly use the backdrop of New York city and was transformed into the magical world of Oz. The Emerald City uses the World Trade Centre and it is truly magnificent. While the yellow brick road takes us all over New York, even the New York city library is not spared, (well only the facade was used). Being a musical, this version doesn't dissapoint. When it was first release, critics said it was outdated and old fashioned. It was the same remark given when The Sound Of Music was released. Now isn't that a trite cliche. I have to give my thumbs up to Sidney Lumet for his first time directing a musical. I throughly enjoy 'The Wiz' and it a shame I was still young to catch it at the cinemas, where it can really be enjoyed. However when it is on video/DVD it is still a worthwhile watch. You do feel like easing down the road with the cast. CATCH IT!