In the world of Disney there has never been a darker or creepier villain than that of Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent. There was just something dark and evil about her that transitioned off the animated movie and would stick with you as a kid. Now Disney has brought the character to life in an all-new tale with Angelina Jolie taking on the iconic character in the aptly titled Maleficent. The film sports a decent supporting cast including Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, and Imelda Staunton but does this new take on the iconic character deliver as well as it looks to or will it be a bed time story worth forgetting?
Maleficent follows the pure hearted young woman, Maleficent who falls in love with a human male from outside her idyllic forest kingdom, but when an invading army threatens their land and the ultimate betrayal sends her into darkness she becomes the forest’s fiercest protector. Now she is out for revenge facing a battle with the invading king's successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant. As the child grows, she realizes that she holds the key to peace in the kingdom and perhaps to her true happiness as well. The film stumbles a bit as it tries to get going, but thankfully does find its initial footing pretty quick. They have attempted to create a backstory for this character to showcase how she became the famed evil villain, which are some of the best parts of the film. Jolie was born for this role and while she seems to be phoning it in at first quickly finds her rhythm when she gets to take on the darker side of the character. These scenes are a lot of fun to watch and Jolie knocks it out of the park, but sadly these sequences are few and far between. The majority of the film is focused on the back story of taking her to the evil we know and love, only to thrust some twists in the story that takes her away from that version and leaves us with something different that just misses the point of what made the character great. The rest of the cast does an ok job but none of them really shine. The usually awesome Sharlto Copley felt miscast in this role and never really seemed to be doing anything other than phoning it in.
This CGUI world has some beautiful visuals that leap off the screen, but as a whole the designs don’t always match the world of those around them. Instead of immersing you into this mystical world, you feel more like it’s inside a strange cartoon or video game and makes it hard to buy into the complete world. On the flip side when it works it is amazing to look at. Maleficent’s look is spot on with some great moments with her spreading her wings and taking to the skies, but it’s her unleashing her green flames that truly brings the icon out of its animated origins and into the real world. The 3D offers really little to the film with the exception of adding some depth, but nothing that really felt like it was worth the time. This is a CGI filled extravaganza and there is no doubt that it has created an amazingly beautiful world it just felt like it didn’t mesh well with the rest of the real life characters.
This is one of those films that are sure to sport conflicting feeling among fans due to the varying changes to the story and the character of Maleficent. Disney opted to take on the more good willed stereotypical approach instead of allowing the fun darkness of the character do her thing and they really missed a great opportunity. Despite the films issues it is still one that manages to do something different with this iconic character and Jolie elevates it to perfection with her take on the role. Whether you are a fan of Disney or this character the entire film is worth checking out just to see Jolie bring Maleficent to life.