Directed by Robert Stromberg
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley
Review by Jordan
Sleeping Beauty gets the revamp treatment in visual effects whiz Robert Stromberg’s fantasy heavy CGI extravaganza Maleficent, where the classic tale featuring “The Mistress of all Evil” who curses the young princess Aurora after not being invited to her christening is remolded with a now strong, vengeful fairy (the new Maleficent) as the lead squaring off against the deceitful King Stefan.
She curses his daughter, through use of a spinning wheel as per the story, but unfortunately that’s about where the similarities end…
What we have here is a movie without a discernible hero or villain, focusing mainly on a brooding anti-heroine whose character arc is so poorly conceived she’s nigh impossible to care for either as a young, pure-hearted protector of the magical moors or betrayed and powerful enchanter fostering a unexpected and inexplicable love. As the focal point of attention Angelina Jolie tries hard, but is let down by an overabundance of sloppy lines when already overexposed and cheekbones that threaten to pierce straight out of her skin, and as her tortured nemesis, the eventually crazed Stefan, Shartlo Copley handles his emotional moments well and can hold his head reasonably high.
Elle Fanning however does herself no favours as a future leading lady hopeful. Sure, she is mostly restricted to being under a spell and floating around in a manner that seems very comfortable, but she is no Disney princess. Though her tacked on, heavily browed young prince didn’t exactly seem worthy of being lively for so perhaps her acting was meant to be ironic.
Maleficent is the type of movie that leaves itself open for critical bashing, being yet another in the long line of Gothic reboots of colourful classics and a boastful example of imagery over script, but it would be remiss of me to not point out that there is entertainment value here also. The stormy finale complete with a fire breathing dragon and an army of ironclad soldiers ratchets the excitement levels and the loud (borderline intrusive) music score throughout is welcome and often unexpected. Then there is the genuinely interesting character Diaval, a raven turned shape-shifter by Maleficent who accompanies her wherever she goes, becoming her emotional compass along the way.
I feel as though there was a better movie here originally, perhaps one with a plot worthy of so much Jolie face time that would’ve also helped explain why poor old Stefan had to be drawn so badly, but one can only review what is displayed on screen and this time it could’ve been a lot more magical.