Movie Review: Angelina Can’t Save This Fairytale Flop

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Angelina Jolie in Maleficient.


By John Lyons

EVEN though Angelina Jolie is one of the biggest movie stars in the world, she’s been out of the spotlight since she starred in Salt and The Tourist in 2010.

She’s since directed two films, 2011’s in the Land of Blood and Honey, and Unbroken – which will be released later this year in time for Oscar season. Until then however, we have Maleficent, which opened very strongly in the States recently.

Like most remakes, re-boots, spin-offs and what-not these days, Maleficent takes something that we’re all familiar with, and tries to give us that same thing again but with a slightly different twist on it this time.

In the case of this film, we have the villain from Sleeping Beauty – Maleficent – and we’re given an in-depth origin story and character study on her.

The opening sequence of the film has a gentle folkloric quality to it. We’re introduced to a young Maleficent, a fairy who lives in a magical forest with other fairies and creatures known as the Moors. The Moors live opposite to a human kingdom. Both species have an agreement to keep their distances from each other, as they cannot co-exist peacefully.

A boy from the human kingdom, Stefan, wanders into the Moors forest one day, and befriends Maleficent. As they grow up, the two slowly fall in love. However, their relationship becomes more strained over time because of Stefan’s greed, and the duo soon reach a grotesque scene that turns Maleficent evil, and permanently separates the couple.

After this backstory, we’re told the same story that we’ve heard before – Maleficent casts an evil curse on the baby princess of the nearby kingdom. The curse predicts that on the princess’ sixteenth birthday, she’ll prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel and drift into an eternal sleep. The only antidote being true love’s kiss.

The film does exactly what it says on the tin… but not much else. Angelina Jolie gives a very good performance as Maleficent, the film does give the character depth and an interesting backstory, but the supporting characters are either downplayed or simply used as a plot device.

One of the more interesting characters in the film was Stefan (played by Sharlto Copley) who seemed to be corrupted by greed as he aged.

However he seemed to get less and less screen time as the film went on, which was a real shame because Sharlto Copley is probably the best actor in the entire thing.

There’s plenty of other actors in the film, such as Elle Fanning and Juno Temple, who are normally wonderful, but they’re just given so little to do that they’re not interesting.

What mostly annoyed me about the film was that it tries to put a modern twist on the classic Disney idea of ‘true love’s kiss’. It also tries to ask the question ‘what is the nature of true evil?’

Even though these are two interesting ideas which are worth exploring, Disney has already successfully explored both of them in great detail a couple of months ago… with Frozen. Why are they trying to do it again? And why are they trying to do it more poorly and predictably this time around?

Maleficent is a wonderful character study of its titular character, but it doesn’t do anything else to make it worth our time. I’d only recommend Maleficent to die-hard Disney fans. Otherwise, you’re better off giving it a miss.


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