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Maleficent

By SAUNDRA SORENSON
A revisionist retelling of Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent has a fever-dream edge and the prominent cheekbones—and intimidating beauty, and sense of physical imposition—of Angelina Jolie. In case your grasp of the source material is rusty, evil fairy Maleficent was left off the invite list to Princess Aurora’s christening, so she dooms the girl to death. But we do not believe in pure evil these days, and Disney wasn’t content to let such a single-minded villain go unconsidered. So what hardened Maleficent’s heart? Rape. The man who would be Sleeping Beauty’s father begins as Maleficent’s childhood chum and first kiss, but he drugs her and removes her wings to get a little geopolitical advantage and, ultimately, the throne. The implications are mindboggling, but Jolie only gets the chance to play a jilted lover who exacts her revenge on the most helpless of the kingdom. Abuse begets abuse. Maleficent lost her edge when she lost her wings. Unfortunately, by the time she regains her wings, her trajectory and the movie’s message have all become so muddled that, at what passes for the climax, we get a battle scene reminiscent of Catwoman—Jolie loses her skirt, gets pants, and slings chains at her erstwhile lover. It doesn’t feel like victory, though: After tiptoeing through the computer-animated tulips, it just feels forced. More charmingly, Jolie stalks the doomed Aurora throughout her childhood, and something like maternal love stirs in Maleficent’s cold, desiccated heart. But this rewrite makes no sense. When Maleficent is robbed of her wings, she becomes a delectably evil force of vengeance. When Disney attempts to flip its own script, it all comes off as apologism. Sexy apologism, but pointless apologism nonetheless.
 
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
  • Release Date: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: PG [ Frightening Images, Sequences of Fantasy Action, Sequences of Fantasy Violence ]
  • Critic's Score: C+
  • Starring: Angelina Jolie [Maleficent], Sharlto Copley [King Stefan], Elle Fanning [Aurora], Sam Riley [Diaval], Imelda Staunton [Knotgrass], Juno Temple [Thistlewit], Lesley Manville [Flittle], Kenneth Cranham [King Henry], Brenton Thwaites [Prince Phillip]
  • Directed by: Robert Stromberg [Director], Linda Woolverton [Screenwriter], Joe Roth [Producer], Angelina Jolie [Executive Producer], Don Hahn [Executive Producer], Palak Patel [Executive Producer], Matt Smith [Executive Producer], Sarah Bradshaw [Executive Producer], Dean Semler [Cinematographer], Gary Freeman [Production Design], Dylan Cole [Production Design], Chris Lebenzon [Film Editor], Richard Pearson [Film Editor], James Howard [Original Music], Anna Sheppard [Costume Designer]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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