Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Sam Riley
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Written by: Linda Woolverton
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 1 hr 37 min
Let’s face it, if you’re planning to see Maleficent in the theaters, there’s really only one clear reason for it – Angelina Jolie. But as reasons go I can’t fault that, as I too was lured in by Maleficent’s gorgeous yet strangely sinister smile in the trailers. After watching the film, I can confirm that every moment Angelina is on the screen the film becomes very watchable, because her performance is pitch perfect. Sinister, subtle, warm and even humorous, she IS every bit the Disney fairy tale wicked witch, and stunning to boot.
Unfortunately what I can’t do is tell you Maleficent is a great film, because I don’t think it is. The main reason I say that is due to how thinly the characters are developed, and how little screen time this massive story is given. Maleficent tries to cover all the events before Aurora’s birth, A.K.A. Sleeping Beauty (Elle Fanning) to set up the new angle on this popular fairy tale.
It then moves on to all the elements we know so well. The banishment of all spinning wheels from the kingdom, the knight in shining armor and true love’s kiss etc. With so much to do, you’d easily expect to be resting your rear at the theater for a little over two hours. But Maleficent barely runs over an hour and a half, which is no time at all, and I wondered how much extra material ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. With so little time given to the story, the film feels rushed, and most of the characters and themes are underdeveloped.
Beyond the poorly constructed story, there is however, plenty of CGI razzle-dazzle to delight the eyes. The film looks and sounds great, and if you’re a fan of Angelina Jolie you’ll certainly not feel like you’ve wasted your time with this film. There are some deeper more serious undertones to Maleficent’s story concerning how her wings are stolen, but I doubt younger audiences will pick up on them. The action can get loud and there are a few battles, but it’s strictly all fantasy so I believe Maleficent will be okay for kids.
This is a big bright visual effects heavy film, and Angelina Jolie is larger than life. I recommend a 2D matinée showing of the movie. At home a HD showing of the film will service it well enough.
Angelina Jolie is the single best reason to see this film. The scene where she bestows her gift to the baby Aurora is mesmerizing, and I could watch it on repeat for hours!