#35 MALEFICENTStarring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple.
Written by Paul Dini, Linda Wolverton and directed by Robert Stromberg. 96 minutes long.
It's Sleeping Beauty told from the point of view of the wicked witch, although in this outing she's not really that wicked, more like, understandably ticked off.
Jolie plays Maleficent, the most powerful of all the faerie folk who one day meets a young boy who grows up to be a king, but not before betraying and crippling her. If you've seen the classic Sleeping Beauty animated movie you know what happens next, but what you don't know is what happens during those 16 years Aurora spends shacked up with a trio of mentally-challenged pixies in a house in the forest and that's what this Maleficent is all about, as she watches over the baby she cursed and waiting for the day she turns 16 and pricks her finger.
Angelina Jolie brings a pitch-perfect English accent and a graceful, steely, almost silent power to the role but doesn't really do a great deal. That said, this is her film all the way and even though she occasionally shares the screen with other characters it's she you watch. Her relationship with Elle Fanning's Aurora is lovely and genuinely touching and the film plays out its story turning it entirely on its head, right down to 'Loves True Kiss' conceit. But at the end of the day, this is a film that's a little flat, nothing very much really happens, there's a big fight at the beginning and one at the end and that's about it.
Wolverton takes the original animated story and reworks it, turning it on its head so the dragon is there, the forest of thornes, Prince Charming and the white horse but all revised and reshaped, the main difference is that in this version, Maleficent isn't the supremely black and evil witch she is in the superb animated classic, rather she's the hero.
Still, viewed as a film about the burden of child rearing, regret and parenthood this is a very warm and touching film, but as an exciting action filled romp it leaves a lot to the imagination. This is no Lord of the Rings, nor Alice in Wonderland (which Wolverton also wrote). Watching the relationship develop between the princess and the witch is the true heart and soul of this film but it's just that the rest of it feels a little flat and empty, for a large portion of the film Jolie romps the countryside along or talking to CGI creatures, and it's a good long while before she finally has another human to talk to.
And talking of CGI, it's ok but by no means, perfect. The creatures look far too cute - big eyes and all too cute and fake and the change between CGI humans to their real-life contemporaries is, at times quite jarring.
With a mercifully short running-time, by modern day standards and bereft, of the obligatory third act mighty battle in an open field between hordes of monsters and a vast army of soldiers, which takes place at the beginning of the film this was a slight but still enjoyable take on the classic fairy tale, just not that memorable. And sadly not destined to be a classic like it's animated counterpart.
Should appeal to boys as well as girls.