03/08/2013 06:06 pm ET Updated May 08, 2013

A Parent's Guide to Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful is Disney's new imagining of the class L. Frank Baum tale Wizard of Oz, providing a backstory to the iconic tale. The movie follows the beginnings of Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a down-on-his-luck illusionist who relies on his charm as well as some shady practices to get ahead. When a powerful twister roles through town, Oscar is transported to the land of Oz, where he is assumed to be a long-anticipated wizard. Oscar encounters three witches: Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), and Oscar suddenly finds that the fate of Oz is in is hands.

Oz the Great and Powerful is an imaginative tale of good and evil and of human failings that create unimaginable consequences. Beyond the engaging story, though, the film is a lush and fantastical journey into another world, artistically told through cutting-edge CGI. It's hard to imagine anyone not being blown away by the impressive scenery of this film, and the 3-D effects are truly stunning. The characters draw us in to the story, but the cinematography is breathtaking as well. I saw the movie with my 8-year-old son and both of us gave it two thumbs up. I'm typically not a fan of the fantasy genre but really enjoyed this movie.

This movie has a broad appeal, and I suspect it will be a popular movie for families to see together. There is action and adventure that will appeal to young boys, and girls who love princesses will likely be enchanted by the beautiful witches. But before you buy your ticket, you may need to contemplate your child's maturity level and whether or not they are old enough for some of the film's scarier themes. I'm going to try to do my best to break down the areas of concerns that parents might have without giving away any major spoilers.

Supernatural/Scary Themes
Most of the movie hinges around supernatural elements, from dolls that talk to black magic. Some of the witches are evil and cast spells on others. The most frightening scenes involve the ubiquitous flying monkeys who are minions of an evil witch. In this movie, they are particularly gruesome, with faces that look like lions and sharp, scary teeth. There are several moments of scary surprise involving these monkeys, as well as a scene with a man-eating plant and small fairies with sharp teeth. The 3-D intensifies these scenes. One of the witches morphs into a rather hideous physicality that would no doubt terrify small children. My 8-year-old saw the movie with me and shielded his eyes during that scene.

Some of the characters are intent on killing other humans. There is mass destruction and death. A main character is orphaned. There are scenes where weapons are used, where animals attempt to kill humans and where magic is invoked to physically harm others.

There is intense action in this movie, with several main characters in peril and risking death. While this may keep kids engaged in the movie, it could prove stressful for small children.

I did not note any bad words, cursing or questionable phrases in the movie.

The main character is a womanizer, though the scenes revolving around this are tame. There is some kissing in the movie. Oscar's attitude towards women has grave consequences and could provide for some interesting talking points with children.

Moral themes
I think most parents will appreciate the moral themes in the movie. While it isn't a movie about perfect people making perfect choices, the movie does highlight many moral dilemmas and the consequences that arise from both good and bad choices, including dishonesty, selfishness and revenge. Oz struggles with issues of pride and greed, and must overcome these tendencies to resolve conflict. Some characters illustrate the negative impact of unchecked resentment, hurt and anger, while others illustrate the positive impact of forgiveness and loyalty. I believe this movie could spark some incredible conversations between children and parents about morality, ethics and human behavior.

In my opinion, this movie is appropriate for older children due to the frightening elements in the movie. I would enthusiastically recommend this movie to families with children ages 13 and up. I would exercise caution for children ages 6-12, depending on maturity level. I would not recommend this movie to children 5 and under.

Oz the Great and Powerful opens in theaters March 8th.