A new trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful – a prequel film to the Wizard of Oz – debuted today at the Comic-Con 2012 Disney panel, and now you can check out the trailer for yourself. The film stars James Franco as a hack magician who happens into the titular mystical land, only to complicate the lives of three familiar witches – Evanora, Glinda, and Theodora, played by Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and Mila Kunis. As the magician tries to deal with his lady troubles, he starts down a path that leads him to his famous destiny.

Spider-Man trilogy director Sam Raimi has definitely made a colorful and imaginative version of the land of Oz for audiences to experience with a combined sense of familiarity and new awe. The colors are so vibrant that they nearly pop out of the screen without the aid of 3D – but speaking of the stereoscopic format, there are plenty of “in your face” 3D scenes and action moments abound in the trailer. Depending on how you feel about that use of the format (Disney used a similar tactic (bright colors, pop-out effects) for their Alice In Wonderland re-imagining) you’ll either be very excited or put-off by what you see here.

For myself, the most impressive bit of the trailer is the opening, in which we are transported back to depression-era Kansas in black and white footage. Those scenes recall with uncanny detail the early parts of the original Oz movie – as created by uncredited director King Vidor – making the disparity between the black and white scenes and the later rainbow of digital 3D, even more drastic in contrast.

As for the three leading ladies: Weisz is not the most intimidating evil witch we’ve ever seen, and Kunis feels a bit out of place (or was that just her line delivery?). But, as usual, Michelle Williams has managed to virtually disappear into her role as Glinda – the “good” witch who would eventually go on to give a young girl named Dorothy some very important ruby slippers to wear.

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Check out the official synopsis for Oz the Great and Powerful:

When small-time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great and powerful Wizard—and just maybe into a better man as well.

Oz the Great and Powerful opens in U.S. theaters on March 8th, 2013.

Source: Walt Disney Pictures