Film Review – Maleficent

Those horns. That look. Those cheekbones! Disney’s latest incarnation presents the classic, Sleeping Beauty villain as you’ve never seen her before. Case and point, no Disney villain looks like Angelina Jolie. Retelling classic tales from the point-of-view of the not-so-evil baddie has become a popular trend over the last few years, and this film is no different; however, I do believe there’s a reason that this particular one has come out a little later. The filmmakers took their time and it shows. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton mixed her material with that of ten other writers associated with either the original story, the original film, or the story “La Belle au bois dormant” to create more complex characters with whom the audience can better identify.

Though this may be Robert Stromberg’s first foray into directing, he’s got three Oscars under his belt for Art Direction and Visual Effects. Trust me, you will realise this not too far into the film, even if you’ve never heard of him. The plot (and the emotions it evokes) may not surprise many people, but the manner in which the scenes and characters are crafted just might. The visual effects are flawless. Don’t believe me? Watch the end credits and just try to count the number of digital artists involved (aside from Stromberg) before their names scroll to the top of the screen.

Maleficent begins its story way before Aurora is even a dream. It’s your classic girl meets boy, boy gets girl, boy does something incredibly stupid to mess it up. Unfortunately, no one told said boy not to break the heart of a powerful fairy. Once the original story comes into play, the filmmakers take some liberties, but I can’t say I mind. I never enjoyed Sleeping Beauty as much as many other Disney films growing up, and I have to say, I like this re-telling better.

I don’t think anyone doubted Jolie’s ability to carry the movie (I adore everything she did with this character), but Sharlto Copley held his own in every scene with the great fairy and Elle Fanning warmed my  heart as the young Aurora. The ever-lovely Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville provided cute, comic relief as the fairies entrusted with Aurora’s upbringing, and Sam Riley is the embodiment of a man of many hats, and I’d like to see more of him.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few awkward lines here and there, but for a PG-Rated, Disney film, it’s pretty exciting stuff. Bonus? It’s wrapped up in a nice, 97-minute package, so you won’t realise two hours in that some of that extra battle footage could have been cut for a more concise film, nor will you have to figure out when’s a good time for a bathroom break, because you can actually get through it in one sitting. In short? Maleficent is definitely worth seeing in the theatre.

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