Thursday, May 29, 2014

Releases May 30th, 2014
1 hr 38 mins
Rated PG
Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy


Robert Stromberg

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
Ella Purnell and Isobelle Molloy as Young Maleficent
Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora
Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and Eleanor Worthington Cox as Young Princess Aurora
Sharlto Copley as King Stefan
Toby Regbo and Michael Higgins as Young Stefan
Sam Riley as Diaval
Brenton Thwaites as Phillip
Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass
Juno Temple as Thistlewit
Lesley Manville as Flittle
Kenneth Cranham as King Henry

Review by Stephen M.

As much as I like to have love Maleficent, I can't say I was absolutely enamored with it as I was hoping to.  Everything about the movie, from the acting, to the special effects, to the story to me was just average.  Average, normally wouldn't be so bad.  But this movie is from the house of Mickey and the lead is Angelina Jolie, so in that sense it was disappointing for me.

Maleficent takes us back before the 1959 animation Sleepy Beauty and behind the scenes as to what supposedly actually happened as told from Aurora.  This is yet another attempt to rewrite a classic story, changing the classic villain from being a bad ass to just being misunderstood.  The other being the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz wonderfully done in the Broadway show Wicked and quite interestingly in the film The Great and Powerful Oz. 

Angelina fills the role of Maleficent perfectly given her looks.  Her interactions with a baby and young Aurora are adorable.  But her speaking parts are limited by the Director leaving us often looking at her looking at something else or throwing out one liners.  We don't get to hear the thoughts and feelings of Maleficent much despite having her heart broken and betrayed.  Seeing Maleficent near the end of the final battle scene with her slender figure and tight outfit rising up reminded me of Halle Berry as Catwoman.  Thankfully, that's the only thing it shares with the 2004 flop.  With regards to the other cast members, Sam Riley as Maleficent's raven companion Diaval lacks personality with a constraint performance.  Elle Fanning as Aurora gives us a version that is more childlike and naive than that in Sleepy Beauty.  Sharlto Copley who plays King Stefan always does a great performance, even if the character he portrays could use more flesh as to the motives.

With regards to the CGI, the dragon looks good but not extraordinary.  The "magic" that is abundant in Sleeping Beauty shows up in Maleficent as a cheap light and smoke show.  The classic "pink/blue" fight scene is sadly absent.  The three fairies that take in Aurora as a baby looks... odd.  The only impressive creatures in Maleficent's magical kingdom are the wood creatures that fight with her.  Diaval moves more like an animatronic at a Disney Park than fluid like an actual bird.  The roles of Maleficent's minions aka the Goons are changed.  What probably bugs me the most though is the lack of singing despite it being a Disney film.  I don't expect it to be a musical with singing throughout, but a few songs in the right place would have felt right.

Overall, I would still recommend the film, but watch it as a matinee.  It's interesting to see Maleficent's origins.  From there much of the story is pretty much the same as Sleeping Beauty albeit from a different perspective with a twist.  The curse, and awakening from true love's kiss is there.  But everything else is not quite what you saw in the classic animation and that's not necessarily a good thing if you love the original.  I don't mind seeing Maleficent as a kind fairy, it's just not very original at this point and quite out of place with what we're accustomed to knowing.


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