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Angelina Jolie becomes Maleficent’s incarnate in Disney’s latest live-action venture. There’s still a curse, but a new backstory for the modern age in this week’s release.

The Players:

  • Director: Robert Stromberg
  • Writer: Linda Woolverton
  • Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Leslie Manville
  • Music: James Newton Howard
  • Cinematography: Dean Semler

Plot:

When Maleficent (Jolie) is betrayed by her former love for a kingdom, she unleashes a curse that will affect the newborn princess. While King Stefan (Sharlto Copley) prepares to wage a war against Maleficent, the legendary villain is revealed to be more than what the fairytales claim.

Good

  • Unexpected Story: In an industry rife with rehashings and unnecessary reboots –Maleficent functions as more than that. It invites fans of Sleeping Beauty to see a universe they thought they knew in a drastically different way. It’s an alternate universe that takes the Mistress of all Evil and retells her story in a manner that changes the source material.
  • Woolverton: The Beauty and the Beast scribe re-imagines Maleficent as a force of nature that presides over a harmonious magical fairy world adjacent to a human kingdom. Its that world in which she loses her childhood sweetheart Stefan. The story is not only about vengeance for an evil act but it’s about overcoming the stigma of the actions taken after being done wrong.
  • Angelina Jolie: From the moment Jolie donned the horns, she personified the iconic villain. Once the film is experienced, Jolie will forever be synonymous with Maleficent. Played with a strength that is cruel yet nurturing, Jolie brings out the dynamic colors of the character. The christening scene? It’s brings so much depth to the legendary animated sequence. Jolie’s anger booms through the screen. The combination of the makeup, the costume and effects does its predecessor justice.
  • Relationships: With the addition of Diaval, the raven-turned-handsome servant, Maleficent is given relationships to develop as a person. He is her rugged and wise conscience. He nudges her to open up to love. Aurora’s innocence contrasts Maleficent’s and balances her darkness out. They play well against each other. This is crucial as Aurora’s 16th birthday approaches and the stakes are raised.

The So-So:

  • The CGI World: The land of the Moors where most of the story takes place looks no different than Oz and Wonderland. You could meld those together and they are not remarkably different. It was incredibly distracting and not a solidified vision for a different fantasy land. Also, the fairies being turned into scary CGI caricatures of the actresses portraying them certainly didn’t help. The CGI animal and creatures have yet to become accessible and endearing. Diaval the Raven showed some progress but that was because of the human element of Sam Riley’s performance.

Overall:

Maleficent does not intend to replace the Sleeping Beauty classic. It exists as a “true story” in a universe where the roles of women and their kinship can be the focus. It promotes the idea that heroes aren’t always the ones with the shields. In the wake of real world events, this movie gives voice to the historically marginalized. It will inspire young ones to think differently as they grow older and get adults to reflect on the progress that needs to be made.

Rating: 8.5/10

Maleficent opens in theaters May 30.

Photo Gallery:

Trailer:

Will you be seeing Maleficent this weekend?