Aug 17, 2021
Maleficent (2014). Meh.
Remember Sleeping Beauty (1959)? You know, fairy tale princess, evil curse, rescue by charming prince, etc.? It must have been quite a romantic fantasy back in the day, but if you look at it now it’s a bit creepy, what with the arranged marriage of a 16 year old girl to some feudal oppressor. Definitely in need of an update, so, taking a page from the success of Wicked, the whole story has been redone from the point of view of the antagonist, who turns out to be “good bad,” but not evil.
Angelina Jolie plays the title role, a fairy from the Magical Land of the Moors (moops!), who turns bad when an evil man betrays her. She doesn’t understand that #NotAllMen are like that, so she casts a curse on the dude’s daughter, who grows up to be Elle Fanning. Jolie keeps a close watch on Elle, and ultimately the two end up in a fairy godmother/fairy goddaughter relationship. Things get complicated when Elle returns to the family castle, and finds out that her dad is a total D-bag. There is a big fight scene involving a dragon, Angelina Jolie wearing tight black leather, probably some ninjas too, and then it all ends happily ever after.
If you were expecting a campy send-up of Sleeping Beauty, this isn’t the movie for you. Go re-watch Enchanted (2007) for that. Maleficent is more in the Avatar/Alice in Wonderland/Random Hobbit Movie adventure genre. The Magical Land of the Moors (moops!) looks like James Cameron’s planet Pandora, plus there are all sort of leftover Ents and Orcs from The Lord of the Rings running around.
Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones have been enhanced by CGI (or maybe just too much makeup?) and are distracting as hell, though her performance is good and she doesn’t go too far over the top. Elle Fanning, who nailed the role of Trailer Park Girl in Super 8 (2011), makes a surprisingly charming fairy tale princess. Sharlto Copley is just okay as the mad/bad king, in a role that Joaquin Phoenix or Jonathan Rhys-Myers would have had a field day with. Juno Temple and Imelda Staunton pop up as comic relief, but not often enough.
Summing up: decent but not wonderful revisionist version of Disney fairy tale, probably appealing to young girls. Must be seen in 3D to be appreciated.