"Oz the Great and Powerful" (PG, 130 minutes, Disney): Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a sideshow conjurer with a traveling circus in 1905 Kansas, captured in the black-and-white, square-framed format of old-timey cinema. He's forced to make a quick escape from the midway via hot-air balloon, at which point he's caught in a cyclone that plops him down in a brightly colored, wide-screen world. If that all sounds familiar, it's meant to: "Oz the Great and Powerful" hews faithfully to Victor Fleming's "The Wizard of Oz." Time travel may be one element of the L. Frank Baum stories on which "The Wizard of Oz" and this incarnation are based, but plopping a Gen-X California boy into a role that calls for swift instincts and shrewd alertness is an error from which "Oz the Great and Powerful" never recovers. What's meant to be an affectionate, clever way of establishing continuity between the two narratives instead serves to remind viewers of the enduring superiority of the classic.
"Snitch" (PG-13, 95 minutes, Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate): Neither a family-friendly comedy nor a flat-out action flick, "Snitch" requires little of its star other than a look of perpetual consternation. Dwayne Johnson plays John Matthews, a man who volunteers to go undercover for the DEA to get the criminal sentence reduced for his 20-year-old son (Rafi Gavron), a first-time offender who has been caught in a drug sting. John starts to suspect that he's disposable and that if he doesn't watch out he's going to end up stuffed inside a metal drum filled with acid in Juarez. Jon Bernthal is fine in his role as Daniel, the not-quite-reformed ex-con who introduces John to the underworld. Daniel is the closest thing to an action hero here, with Johnson doing everything in his power to seem like the clueless family man who's never picked up a gun before.
"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (R, 88 minutes, Paramount): If Abraham Lincoln can be a vampire hunter, then of course Hansel and Gretel would spend their lives tracking and killing witches. The pair's vocation may be the only logical part of this rarely funny spoof that's heavy on bone-crushing and blood-gushing. The early scenes break down the familiar back story: A brother and sister stumble upon a candy-coated cottage in the woods that's home to a witch, who might be Freddy Krueger's great aunt. She tries to eat them, but they kill her instead. And before you know it, they're all grown up (played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) and bounty hunters. They are hired by the mayor of a village where children are disappearing at an alarming rate. Hansel and Gretel arrive as if two characters from "The Matrix" were dropped into 17th-century Heidelberg; they are leather-clad and carry massive guns and sassy attitudes that don't win them points with the wicked sheriff.
Also released Tuesday