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Maleficent – Review


Release Date: 30th May 2014 [USA]
Director: Robert Stromberg
Writer: Linda Woolverton [Screenplay] - Charles Perrault - [Based from the story "La Belle au bois dormant"] - Jacob Grimm - Wilhelm Grimm - [Based from the story "Little Briar Rose"] - Erdman Penner - Joe Rinaldi - Winston Hibler - Bill Peet - Ted Sears - Ralph Wright - Milt Banta - [Based from the Motion Picture "Sleeping Beauty"]
Cast: Angelina Jolie - Elle Fanning - Sharlto Copley - Lesley Manville - Imelda Staunton - Juno Temple - Sam Riley



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Posted June 5, 2014 by

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Maleficent Review:

Disney’s live-action reimagining of their ‘59 animated feature Sleeping Beauty, helmed by VFX guru and noticeably first-time director Robert Stromberg, places Angelina Jolie in front of the camera for the first time since The Tourist in 2010.

Although it’s wonderful to see the hotter-half (depending on where you’re sitting) of Brangelina back on the silver screen, this fairytale adapt. is not all that wonderful. Maleficent takes a fresh approach to the age-old fable, but nonetheless still falls victim to predictability with lackluster action sequences and narrative anomalies aplenty.

Angelina Jolie is remarkable as the Puck-like prankster fairy, stylishly sporting rosy lips, defined cheekbones and a fashionably horned top hat and cloak that are blacker than her crow servant, Diaval (Sam Riley).

With its characterisation of the “wicked” queen juxtaposing that of its animated original, Maleficent takes the view of an initially kind-hearted sorceress whose hunger for vengeance turns her into a vindictive not-so-badass.

The antihero is rendered here as a victim, inviting our sympathy when her once-lover King Stefan (played by the poorly cast Sharlto Copley with a ropey Scott accent) maliciously hacks off her wings to become the ruler of a neighbouring (human) realm.

This marginally adult-friendly adventure comes as part of Hollywood’s relatively recent penchant for moody fairytales, (Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel, Oz) and adheres to the current “darker cinema” craze; a trend arguably set by the Harry Potter franchise and respected by Daniel Craig’s Bond installments.

Left out of Princess Aurora’s christening, Maleficent imposes herself upon the celebration only to curse the child she grows to love as her own. Blind sighted by vengeance and her animosity towards Stefan, the fairy queen casts her irrevocable spell upon the innocent tot so that on her sixteenth birthday, Aurora (Elle Fanning) will prick her finger on the needle of a spindle and fall into a sleep-like death, breakable only by true love’s kiss (you know the drill).

Dotty aunts, energetically played by Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple, are then entrusted to raise the angelic Aurora in seclusion until the regrettable curse expires. These spritely fairies bring slapstick silliness to the proceedings and triumph as this year’s finest Laurel and Hardy impersonators.

Stromberg’s directorial debutaspires to the visual splendor of Avatar’s Pandora, and with the same production designer on board, it just about does it; but there are further parallels to be made here. Beyond the obvious West-End’s Wicked comparisons as a story behind the story, there’s something strikingly Shakespearean about Maleficent, as it appears to generously borrow from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, particularly Michael Hoffman’s colourful ’99 version. Not only does our title character exhibit a Puck-esque persona as a constant lurking presence who enjoys a practical joke or two, the parallel universes of humans and fairies is saliently Bard-like.

Jolie’s grandeur is undeniably the best thing about Disney’s Sleeping Beauty spin-off, but for a magical adventure, the unoriginal Maleficent lacks any real enchantment.


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Anthony Lowery
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One Comment


    Californian, Actually most of the fairy tales were very dark before Disney got a hold of them. For elxpmae, Sleeping Beauty birthed a two children while sleeping and the pain of child birth woke her up. It doesn’t end there though. In the Pied Piper, the piper leads the children to a river to drown instead of a cave and in The Little Mermaid, Ariel is given the choice to kill the prince and live or turn to sea foam and die, Snow White is no fairy tale either, the Evil Queen (mother not step mother) originally wants Snow’s liver and lungs which were to be her dinner and in the end the Queen is made to dance in red hot iron shoes until she die.Fairy tales were originally meant to teach a lesson and if you didn’t learn head that lesson something bad would happen.

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