Maleficent manages to put an entertaining spin on the tale of Sleeping Beauty, by attempting to tell the story from the villains perspective. Early scenes of the character, and later interactions between Malificent and Aurora successfully add depth and intrigue, but overall falls short in creating a unique backstory for the character. Despite the immersive visual effects and Angelina Jolie’s excellent performance, there is really nothing all that compelling about Maleficent.
Based on Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent(Angelina Jolie) has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal-an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora (Elle Fanning) holds the key to peace in the kingdom-and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.
Brought to life by first time director Richard Stoddard, Maleficent looks stunning. The film successfully transitions a cartoon to live action, capturing the color and vibrance of a Disney animation while adding the depth of a live-action film. Angelia Jolie really does an excellent job bringing Maleficent to life, and delivers a great performance. The action scenes, although few and far between, are the most impressive moments of the movie, particularly the first major battle sequence in the film. Stoddard comes from a background of special effects and a ton of experience from big-time projects, so it should come as no surprise that the visuals are the highlight of the film.
The first portion of the film is when Maleficent is at its strongest, both visually and story quality. Although the visuals remain outstanding throughout the movie, the story is pretty much downhill from there. The film is centered around Maleficent but focuses so heavily on her simple motives, we barely get to see Jolie embrace the evil her character is known for. Sharlto Copley as Stephan is entertaining at times, but I wouldn’t consider him a huge a highlight of the film. I would argue that this is due to flaws in the story and the under-development of his character rather than the actors performance.
There are multiple plot holes and inconsistencies throughout the film, particularly surrounding the use of magic and towards the end of the movie the are a few moments that are ridiculously silly and very hard to believe. I do appreciate that some of these moments were designed simply to keep the story moving, but still the efforts and struggles that lead up to the end of the film really don’t make ton of sense.
Overral the characters are flat, their motives are basic and the plot is pretty thin. To be fair that is pretty much what you should expect out of live-action film centered around a Disney cartoon. I also recognize that I am not the target demographic, and there are plenty of people out their that will truly enjoy this film. If your a big fan of the story, or looking for a night out with the family, then odds are you will likely enjoy Maleficent.
This film was designed for the big screen, so if you do intend on seeing Maleficent in theaters , I would highly recommend checking it out in IMAX 3D. If the visuals are the only reason you are going, I would recommend holding off. As impressive as the film looks, there really isn’t enough there to pay the price of admission.