One of the most eagerly awaited movies of the summer is finally here, "Maleficent." People have been talking about this live action movie about and the villain from "Sleeping Beauty" for more than two years. Ever since a still of Angelina Jolie in the title role emerged online, the net has been buzzing about it. Now the movie is finally here and keeping with the current 2014 summer movie season, it is a disappointment.
Many know the story of Maleficent as she is one of the most famous Disney villains of all time. She is the evil fairy not invited to the royal christening and puts a curse on King Stefan's daughter, Princess Aurora where before the sun sets on her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep until love's first kiss can wake her. However, the opening narration in "Maleficent" says, "Let us tell an old story anew." We then meet the famous dark fairy as a child and discover everything is not as it seems.
"Maleficent" was directed by multiple Oscar winner Robert Stromberg. It should be noted right away that he did not win those Academy Awards for directing. He got them for Art Direction. He has also been nominated in the past for his work in visual effects. This movie marks his directorial debut and as you might expect of someone with his background the movie looks amazing! The visuals in this movie are pure eye candy and the 3D effects even enhance those even more. Good 3D is rare to see in a Disney produced movie.
Having said all that, Robert Stromberg appears to have no knowledge of story structure whatsoever! This man cannot tell at story al all and you'll notice there is not flow to "Maleficent." Oh, and given the talent he had to work with and performances that were turned in, he obviously has no idea how to work with actors. Granted and let's face it, it is no surprise he ended up being more of a technical director. Angelina does a fine job in the title role, but weren't you expecting a better word than "fine?" Elle Fanning and Sharlto Copley are two talented actors who stars are well on the rise, but you would never know that after watching this movie. They don't stink it up on screen, they just aren't given too much to do and very little depth is seen in their characters even though the screenplay was written to give them much more.
One label that also befalls "Maleficent" is that it is very DISNEY. In fact, you can also visualize the movie being a traditional hand drawn animated feature rather than a live action one. There are "scary" moments in the movie, but no more scary than what was seen in the 1959 "Sleepy Beauty." so kids should be fine seeing it. They'll probably like t more than most adults. Another element that makes the movie so Disney like are characters like the three good fairies. They are supposed to be comic relief, but thanks to Stromberg, they come across as blithering idiots. Their characters can also be the focus of some huge plot holes in the movie.
May 2014, with the exception of the Memorial Day Weekend, movies has to go down as the worst start of any summer movie season. Yes, a number of the picturess released this month made decent money, but that can be accounted for some great marketing. If there was an Oscar category for Best Advertising, one of the movies from this month would capture that title. The good news is that today is May 30 and the month of June is just days away. Let's hope there are some better movies on the horizon because if they all end up like "Maleficent" we are in for one long summer. The movie is Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.