Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
I can’t be the only one who didn’t realize Maleficent was a fairy and not a witch, right?! Now that I got that out of the way, on to my review:
While more tolerable than 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” or “Mirror Mirror”, “Maleficent”, a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”, starring Elle Fanning and Angelina Jolie (in what may be one of her final on-screen performances) will not help the case for live action remakes of classic animated fairytales.
Synopsis: A retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”, told from Maleficent’s point of view; Maleficent played by Jolie, Aurora played by Fanning.
The script and creative plot reconstruction from writer Linda Woolverton, is the best aspect of “Maleficent”.
Side Note: I understand that the story of Sleeping Beauty predates Disney. But since “Maleficent” is basically Disney remaking Disney, I will be addressing 1959’s “Sleeping Beauty” as the source material. So, deal with it.
The back-story element (how Maleficent came to be seen as a villain) while a bore to sit through, actually injects a refreshing motive, as this film enters its 2nd Act. Even the ending, which randomly sees Angelina Jolie in leather pants, and also holds the most significant plot deviation, works. All of this works…on paper. Seeing it all play out in live action is quite a different story. Most of the CGI is simply awful. And in a movie which is composed of 80% CGI, including odd looking CGI creatures, CGI battle sequences and CGI floating people, “Maleficent” had me wondering if animation is necessary if only to make stories regarding fantasy more palatable. That said, this is not the biggest directorial flaw in this film. The countless extreme close-ups throughout come off as devastatingly amateurish, giving an unintentional campiness to moments that were meant to be taken seriously.
But is visual effects artist/director Robert Stromberg to blame for all of this film’s shortcomings? Well, mostly, but the horrendous supporting cast (Fanning not included) doesn’t help.
As for Mrs. Brad Pitt’s performance, I have no complaints. And once this movie gets going (it is an absolute snoozer for the first 30 minutes) and she gets a chance to literally and metaphorically spread her wings and camp it up, Jolie becomes one of the only things keeping the entertainment levels elevated.
Final Thought: Anyone who comes out of “Maleficent” dismissing it on the basis of story alterations or their personal hatred of Angelina Jolie, should really just get over it. If anything, dismiss this film on its shockingly off-putting visuals. On the plus side, and maybe most importantly, if you’re looking for a 97 minute babysitter, “Maleficent” is a movie which will keep the attention of most children and/or childlike fans of the outdated “Sleeping Beauty”. Take that for what it’s worth.
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