This film is aptly named. You get a whole lot of the character Maleficent in the film of the same name. Directed by near-legendary special effects man but first-time director Robert Stromberg, we meet the title character as a charming, giggly winged forest fairy-child. Maleficent has got a pair of curly horns, a rather literal interpretation of what I figured for an elaborate hat on the animated Maleficent in the 1959 classic, Sleeping Beauty. Young Maleficent meets a human boy in the forest who just happens to be named Stefan and a friendship forms. For fans of the original animated tale, that’s a touchstone we can appreciate. We’re off to the races.
|Jolie as Maleficent visits the baby|
Angelina Jolie plays the grown-up Maleficent. Heard of her, have you? Her cheekbones are enhanced here to the degree that the makeup effect merited its own article in The New York Times. What you may or may not know about Jolie is that she is a master of controlling her own image in the media. She fiercely shields herself from paparazzi, but travels (virtually everywhere) with her own professional photographers. She then chooses images and offers them to the press—for a price. Didn’t you ever notice that Jolie always looks fabulous in informal shots? That’s why. Now, the greater point I make is that if you stopped the film Maleficent at any point, you would find that Jolie always looks fabulous. I don’t think there’s a frame of the film where she isn’t absolutely stunning. The problem is that makes her character awfully one-dimensional. I get it. She’s gorgeous. But doesn’t Maleficent have any other colors? Doesn’t she ever slouch a bit in her complicated life? Pull an unattractive face? Look vulnerable? Not according to Robert Stromberg, she doesn’t. And that makes her ultimately uninteresting.
|Elle Fanning as Aurora|
|Copley as King Stefan|
|Sam Riley as the shape-shifting crow|
|The background art seems to|
pay homage to the original
I’m figuring Maleficent as fare for the die-hard Disney fan, especially those who love Sleeping Beauty so much that any iteration is worth exploring. You want it? It’s yours. At 97 minutes, Maleficent seemed long. It nearly put its own sleeping spell on me. Some violent battle scenes put the 13 in its PG13 rating. Better luck next time, all.