From Walt Disney Pictures.
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley and Imelda Staunton. Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)
“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.” If you remember this line fondly, then you were and still are a Disney kid. No one can forget the classic animated feature, “Sleeping Beauty”, with it’s fantastic visuals, beautiful animation and it’s incredibly vicious villain. Yes, we are talking about Maleficent. 55 Years later, we return to the fairy tale to see a different take on one of the greatest Disney villains of all time.
Maleficent takes a back story route through what caused her to place a curse on an infant child of the human kingdom near by. Why curse an innocent child? Well, I don’t provide spoilers so you’ll have to see for yourself, but the filmmakers provided a good explanation to her sudden arrival at the coronation of young Aurora, and the twists don’t stop there in what was actually a really refreshing reimagining of an old tale.
Let’s put some fears to rest here. Angelina Jolie is fantastic as Maleficent, she has the cruel cynicism that oozes through every coy smile and chuckle, but she also brings a sense of softness and sadness that was easy to identify with, and believe it or not, she brought tears to my eyes a few times, her performance is that beautiful. But her performance wasn’t the only stellar one. One of my favorite young actresses, Elle Fanning, yes the younger sister of Dakota Fanning and star of Super 8, is Princess Aurora, and she was equally fantastic and had great on screen chemistry with Jolie, which adds much needed to emotional weight to the story. Sharlto Copley also brings a great deal of character to King Stefan, though his performance echoes through some of his previous roles in delivery. Probably one of the biggest surprises is how they handle the raven that accompanies her, I rather liked the change, but that’s all I will say.
The visuals are fantastic as well, as the mixture of stone walls of grey intertwine with the bright and colorful forests and landscapes of the moors, with the addition of 3-D that is actually worth watching, the depth of the world draws you in, and it’s like pure Disney magic that we all know and love, I felt like a kid at Disneyland during most of the film.
I say most, because there are a few portions of the film that almost drew me out of the world, and actually, they mostly happen at the beginning. Not to say the story there isn’t well told, the screenplay holds the story back at the beginning, and there are plenty of face palm worth dialogue in the first 15 minutes or so of this tale. I also believe that the story felt a little rushed, at 97 minutes in length, the movie sped by at often a far too quickened pace. I wanted to slow down, and enjoy the performances between Jolie and Fanning especially, as it seemed to jump ahead further and further, and before you know it, Prince Phillip shows up. Some of the creatures designs looked a little too cartoony to fit in at times.
Maleficent is one of those movies that may be hit or miss for many. You’ll either fall in love with the performances and the heart behind Jolie’s performance, or, you’ll feel disappointed that they didn’t go quite as dark as the previews played it out to be, or you may be one of those folks expecting a live action remake of the original 1959 classic. If that’s the case, you’ll be let down.
Count me as a lover, and not a fighter of this film, as I found the performances of the lead characters and the interesting twists to a story I hold dear to my childhood as a refreshing glimpse into one of the most iconic villains of our time. It explores the notion that I believe as well, that evil is not born, it’s made. Our actions in this world have the power to do great and quite vicious things, and Maleficent gives us an emotional look at what causes folks to do acts of both. I don’t expect a lot of folks to agree with me, but I do ask you go in with an open mind, you may find yourself loving it as much as I did.
Maleficent gets 8 thorns out of 10.