Maleficent – Movie Review
Director: Robert Stromberg
Writers: Linda Woolverton, Charles Perrault (based from the story “La Belle au bois dormant” by), Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm (based from the story “Little Briar Rose” by), Erdman Penner (based from the motion picture “Sleeping Beauty”, story adaptation by), Joe Rinaldi &
Winston Hibler & Bill Peet & Ted Sears & Ralph Wright & Milt Banta (based from the motion picture “Sleeping Beauty”, screenplay by)
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple
Maleficent is an incredibly gorgeous movie. The costumes (especially everything Angelina Jolie wears), the sets, the cinematography–all woven together in a gorgeous canvas. I so wanted to love this one. But it jumped the shark about twenty minutes along and never looked back. The overall story felt forced and flat, and I left the theater missing that feeling I could conquer the world that I usually have after a feel-good movie.
To begin at the beginning, Maleficent is Disney’s retelling of their classic (1959) version of Sleeping Beauty, retconning the Big Bad into . . . something else. The basic idea for the movie is sound enough, but it fails in the plot details. Trying to keep things close to what happened in the original film didn’t lend itself all that well to being reversed. Maleficent is one of Disney’s best designed villains–you so love to hate her–consequently, it was hard to identify with her as the woman-done-wrong and find evil elsewhere.
Maleficent does get a complex character arc, with lots and lots of (too much) angelic imagery, but everything she does is reactive. She is a female protagonist in a male-dominated world. She is very strong (her powers are never really defined), so she can defeat most challenges with a wave of her hand. There were several points where she had difficulties that she solved just a few moments later by trying really hard, because it was convenient for the plot. I could only find three things that her magic was unable to do, and none of them made much sense.
My suspension of disbelief just kept getting smacked in the face by the plot pixie-dust.
There are some high points. Unfortunately, none of them involve the story.
Sharlto Copley is one of my favorite actors and, once again, he brings the crazy. In a good way. The three pixies: Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistletwit (ably played by Lesly Manville, Imelda Staunton, and Juno Temple) bounce off each other incessantly and are terrific comic relief. I giggled during every goofy scene they were in. Sam Riley as Diaval is the perfect henchman: supportive, but willing to push when Maleficent needs a little nudge to do the right thing.
Angelina Jolie is definitely the star of the show. She does a magnificent job with what she has to work with. This movie sinks or swims on her ability, and much of its success should be laid at her feet. She is by turns vulnerable, furious, vindictive, tender, naive, protective, and aggressive–the list goes on. You can read every emotion in her posture and on her face. Special mention, too, to whoever designed Jolie’s makeup–it evolves throughout the film, and it is absolutely stunning.
Maleficent is a visual feast, and a must for all costumers/cosplayers. Otherwise, skip it unless you have an insistent child who wants to see it.
Reviewed by Elektra Hammond