Studio: Disney (1hr. 37 min.)
Plot: A vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Ellie Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton
Bottom Line: **
By J.R. Johnson
Not many stories get the chance to be told twice. When this chance is offered, it’s a unique opportunity to do something special, something different. With “Maleficent” Disney hoped to reinvent a classic tale, but ended up with something totally different.
“Maleficent” is the live-action embellishment of the story “La Belle au bois Dormant,” or as it is popularly know, “Sleeping Beauty.” In this recreation Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is spun as a powerful fairy and protector of a magical land kept safe from man’s intervention. When a young man, Stefan (Sharto Copley) finds himself lost in her realm of wonder, she becomes intrigued by the nature of man. The two eventually grow to spend every day together and they fall in love. But as they age Maleficent sees the true nature of man and watches Stefan lose himself in it. One day Stefan returns, only to betray Maleficent in the name of greed. After her hate corrupts her, Maleficent seeks revenge and curses Stefan’s daughter.
“Maleficent” weaves a fairytale, but not the one from Disney’s animated version. “Maleficent” is written in an entirely different tone. It’s very light, happy and even funny at times. It would have been interesting to see a darker recreation, especially since that’s what the marketing push made the film feel like, but it resides in very somber territory for the most part.
The world created to help build this story is visually stunning. Bright, colorful and imaginative, Maleficent is definitely one of the highlights of the film. It’s obvious this is where the biggest investment was made. There are dozen’s of quirky creatures and features that illustrate the true fantasy and bewilderment of the story. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is dim in comparison.
Angelina Jolie’s spectacular performance carries the entire film. Even though most of the cast is only used to push her story arc, Jolie’s presentation remains the only memorable part. Jolie finds herself in a role she could be synonymous with for a very long time, her embodiment of the character alone is almost identical. Maleficent’s story isn’t perfect, in fact if the narrator weren’t apart of this movie there would be dozens of plot holes, but she does hold a resonance that serves as most of the entertainment for the films duration.
Although it’s a watchable effort, Disney’s attempt to bring this fairytale to life concludes as an effort made in vain. “Maleficent” feels rushed and underdeveloped, souring an old story that could have been resurrected for modern times.
Printed in the June 29 - July 14, 2014 edition.