Maleficent Reviews

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skactopus
Super Reviewer
December 10, 2014
Robert Stromberg doesn't get magnificent with Maleficent.

90 minutes may seem short at first, but once the storytelling takes place, it seems fitting. There really isn't much material to indulge or amuse between the introduction and conclusion. The back story, while enough to put the pieces together, lacks sufficient background for characters. With that said, the film does have enough production value to surpass mediocrity.

For the most part, the CG effects are agreeable with the film's personality. The few scenes of bright color contrast the overly dark atmosphere and tone of the picture.

The film belongs to Angelina Jolie, as it should. Listening to her line delivery hits the spot. Elle Fanning has a few moments of delight herself.

Maleficent never reaches the epic status, but for a family oriented fairy tale, it gets the job done.
Super Reviewer
November 3, 2014
Disney has produced a nice update to Sleeping Beauty that reflects society's more evolved value towards women. Whereas the original paints women as helpless beauty prizes for "nice" males, the updated tale envisions that a woman's power, self-worth and joy is found without need of tethering herself to any man. The contrast goes further and bravely darker, with a man's horrible treatment of a woman as the creation story of the updated tale's "villain." However, redemption for males is also found in the re-imagined prince who is confused by the notion that a woman needs a man to save her. The message is that, like adventure, love is all around and in many forms. Rather than the need to show the audience a marriage to make a happy ending, we simply see the prince and princess laugh together from across an opening in a forest. Their value and contentment is found individually, and they willfully connect through the sharing of each other's joy.
Super Reviewer
½ October 6, 2014
Try it at your own risk. IMO, best leave it for kids (although I'm not sure if even they'd enjoy this just another fairy tale that's best left untold, no matter how it turns out in the end........... as if it were a surprising twist!!!).
FiLmCrAzY
Super Reviewer
September 28, 2013
A creepy but wickedly entertaining untold story of the classic Snow White cartoon. An easy to watch afternoon movie, pretty enjoyable!
ajaymuthecooldevils
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2014
A nice character interpretation from Angelina Jolie as 'Maleficent' who unfortunately didn't have the backup from its weak script.. The story is definitely for family, it's a story about love from a pure-heart-turned-to-evil fairy to a princess who she think as her own child.. An interesting character comes from Diaval, with a strong and lovely performance from Elle Fanning as Aurora, while Sharlto Copley failed to shine in this movie with a wrong casting for Philips' character since they didn't cast a handsome boy as a prince but they cast One Direction's personnel (I'm just kidding).. Overall, I like the twist about true love means even though it's very predictable.. But at least they gave a movie that suitable for all ages despite the dark heart that Maleficent have..
Super Reviewer
½ July 11, 2014
Disney correctly gauged the times when it decided to feature one of it's premier villains as a protagonist worthy of Vader-like admiration. Unfortunately they learned little from Lucas' mistakes when he decided to go back and "explain" his greatest creation. I'm gonna go with blaming an inexperienced director on this one because all the right elements are here, only maybe not put together for maximum impact.
In the meantime, Jolie's still got it, that thing, that "watch me" vibe, only it's wasted, and so everything else too. You watch the film ... but meh. And its over.
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2014
Whilst visually stunning, Rick Baker's make-up as well as the performances from Jolie and Copley are the factors that really save this film. With the potential in losing the audiences attention and the slight tediousness from certain supporting roles, this unnecessary re imagining of a Disney classic only just survives with the few strong positives.
Super Reviewer
½ June 30, 2014
The film is magically visionary with its special effects and strong lead performance in Angelina Jolie, but its tale of re-imagining the famed Disney story slightly falters. Maleficent displays a nice backstory but its minor potholes and overall simplicity makes the execution unimpressive. 3.5/5
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2014
I'd guess the reason Walt Disney didn't include Maleficent's backstory in the original Sleeping Beauty is that it's just boring. Maleficent gets high marks for special effects, cinematography and Jolie's strong performance. But the rest of the film may as well have been cast through the Los Angeles area phone book -- there's not another performance better than "adequate". Also, one cannot escape the feeling that the movie is essentially a 15-minute story stretched out over 90 minutes with a lot of tedious filler that really just does not seem to matter very much. All in all, it is a snoozer of a film.
Super Reviewer
½ May 29, 2014
The coolest villain in the Disneyverse would have to be the overdramatic and yet arrestingly gorgeous Maleficient. Played here by Angelina Jolie, in a supremely perfect fit of casting, we get to see her youth as a fairy, her isolation, her relationship with a human, and the pain he caused her. The film tries to balance between sweet fairytale and a dark thriller, but does not succeed, often seeming cutesy at the wrong times, especially when it comes to those three fairies. Besides that the relationship between Maleficient and Sleeping Beauty is definitely interesting, but feels very contrived. Why would a tormentor play with her prey, and raise it up as well. There are many plot holes just like this that detract from the story. Maleficient as a character is beyond intriguing, and her plight is heartbreaking, but that isn't always enough to hold up a nauseating plot and unoriginal twist ending.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ June 17, 2014
We've seen several stories try their hand at reclaiming villains, telling the tales from their relegated and forgotten points of view; after all, history is written by the winners. This technique can be illuminating and fascinating when done right, like Grendel or Gregory Maguire's popular Wicked novels. However, does the public really have that much knowledge of Maleficient? Did most people even know what her name was? For that matter, do most people even know what the real name of Sleeping Beauty is or do they, like myself, just indifferently refer to her as Sleeping Beauty? That relative audience ignorance provides a wide canvas to retell this woman's story.

In an ancient kingdom, there were two lands, one with men and one with magical creatures. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a cheerful fairy with long angelic-like wings and a pair of horns coming from her head. She befriends Steffen (Sharlto Copley) an orphan with ambition to be the next king of men. He betrays Maleficent, drugging her and cutting off her wings to prove to the dying king that she is dead. Years later, and now king, Steffen has a christening for his new baby daughter, Aurora (Elle Fanning), and Maleficent shows up. She curses the young child, declaring that on her sixteenth birthday she shall prick her finger on a spinning needle, fall into a deep slumber, and only be awakened by true love's kiss. Steffen destroys all the spinning wheels he can find and sends out his daughter into the countryside for protection where she's raised by three fairies taking on the form of humans (Imelda Staunton, Leslie Manville, Juno Temple). It's really Maleficent who helps raise her, watching over her and protecting her through the yeas, regretting the horrible choice she made in anger.

I'll start by saying the reason you should see this film, by far, is Angelina Jolie (Wanted). She is terrific. You can readily tell how much fun she's having with the character, and everything from her command, her physicality, her presence, her vocal delivery, is top-notch. She's great from start to finish, the perfect embodiment of the character. Would you believe this is her first live-action film role in almost four years? Wow, did movie audiences miss her. If only the remaining movie was as good as Jolie.

It's a shame then that just about everything falls into a rigid fantasy formula that squeezes any sense of magic dry. Maleficent is the queen of the fantasy half of this world, and after her betrayal by Steffen (more on that below), she seeks vengeance, cursing an innocent child and then remarkably caring for her through a hasty montage. It's hard to ever accept Maleficent as a malevolent character, and I'm sure that's by design by the Mouse House. She doesn't do anything too scary and when the time comes she ends up making the right decisions. There isn't really much of an exploration of her character here. There's the pretense that she's hero and villain but that falls away very quickly, especially with her loving relationship with Aurora. She wants to do right and feels terrible about the curse, but again that's quickly taken care of. Aurora literally spends five minutes onscreen in her "eternal slumber." It's more like a magical nap. If the relationship between Aurora is what makes our heroine whole again, then the climax is saving Aurora, not getting vengeance against Steffen in a dumb CGI battle.

The magical fantasy world also feels oddly underutilized. At least in past Disney efforts like Alice in Wonderland and Oz the Great and Powerful, the worlds at least felt like they had been explored, with many of the magical creatures pitching in during an Act Three battlefield. That isn't the case here. The opening with young Maleficent (Isobele Molloy) introduces some strange creatures and some fairies, but they end up being little more than background dressing, meant to only communicate the change in Maleficent. In the end, it's just Maleficent and her trusty crow (Sam Riley in human form) and that's it. Question: if she can transform her pet into any number of creatures, including a dragon, then why didn't she do this before? When she's racing to save Aurora from pricking her finger, would a dragon have not been a faster mode of travel than a horse? Maleficent's powers are also too ill defined, and her big weakness just happening to be iron feels trite, like her version of kryptonite. The fairy world and its powers aren't given the examination it deserves. As a whole, the world of Maleficent feels less than magical. It feels more like a series of scenes rushing through a plot holding fast to the beats of recent Disney live-action hits.

I don't think I'm reading too much into what is intended as a fantasy film for families, but Maleficent is one big analogue for rape. Hear me out. The title character falls in love with a man who likewise tells her he loves her but is just using her to his own advantage. He then drugs her drink and while she's unconscious has his way with her, leaving her physically disfigured and feeling betrayed. She turns inward, rejects the outside world, and dwells in sadness and seclusion. She doesn't tell others about her attacker until many years later. The public is quick to blame the victim. And then ultimately, once she feels "whole" again thanks to reaching out to others/support, she is able to confront her attacker and rise above his destructive influence, returning to some semblance of her former self. When looked at in its entirety, does that not sound like an intentional analogy for rape/sexual assault? Maleficent's character arc mirrors the experiences of rape victims, and the fact that this kind of mature storyline is played out in a Disney summer family film is kind of extraordinary. It's not so explicit that little kids will walk home asking mom and dad about the persistent nature of "rape culture," but it's presence and articulation is a start. As a rape analogue, it's not offensively handled unless you are one who finds its very inclusion an offense for a PG-movie. Now, this storyline does transform the character in a way others may dislike. Rather than being a powerful agent of evil, she's a woman who was victimized by a man and that's why she turns toward the dark side. For some this will be a disappointing turn of events. I can't say one approach is better than the other from a feminist point of view, but I credit Disney for following through with uncomfortable symbolism for rape to describe Maleficent's arc.

The rest of the cast fill out their roles but lack the flare of Jolie. Copley (District 9) is proving that he may be best under the guidance of Neil Blomkamp. He was one of the better parts of Elysium but without Blomkamp he makes such mystifying choices as an actor. His voice and performance were powerfully wrong for Spike Lee's unnecessary Old Boy, and his demeanor is all over the place with Maleficent. To his credit, the character is horrible underwritten and given so little mooring to try and understand his ever-changing decisions and temperament. Fanning (Super 8) is an innocuous Aurora though the actress has often showed much more ability. Here she just laughs a lot. Riley (On the Road, Control) is wasted comic relief and as a companion. The three color-coded fairies are consigned to broad comic relief, usually bumbling and getting into slapstick brawls with one another. I can't imagine children finding them too funny.

Maleficent the character is given great care by Jolie, the actress. Maleficent, the movie, is slapped together and feels devoid of any sort of engaging storytelling or big-screen magic to leave a favorable impression. It's a rather expected and unexceptional retelling that hits all the notes you'd expect, though without as many magical fantasy creatures, which seems like an oversight for a world of fantasy. The rape analogue is a bold choice for the filmmakers and deserves credit. I wish I could also give them credit for the storytelling and characterization, both of which are rather flat and rote. The special effects are likewise unremarkable. Outside of the rape symbolism, this is a movie you can likely predict every step of the way just looking at the poster. I was able to even predict the left-turn ending concerning "true love's kiss," though Frozen already got there first. If you have low expectations and simply want to watch Jolie and her killer cheekbones be fierce, then perhaps Maleficent is worth checking out. Otherwise, this villain's retelling feels far too familiar and safe and underwhelming to be worth the effort.

Nate's Grade: C
Super Reviewer
½ June 7, 2014
So this is the first movie of the Summer that kind of pissed me off. I snuck into it after watching the great "Edge of Tomorrow", because it's not something I was really wanting to watch. Just matched up when that movie ended, and I had an open afternoon. As a kid I really liked the Disney cartoon of this tale, "Sleeping Beauty". The dragons, the swords, it was just awesome. So a live action version in 2014 should be awesome, right? Well, it could have, but the entire story gets so changed around that it just makes me made. I'm going to have some spoilers(kind of) here, so if you don't want to know anything stop here and know I didn't like it. First Angelina Jolie isn't very good here. She has a fake accent that she changes from time to time, and she is just very bland. Second, I HATE, HATE the fact that they made her the hero of the movie. She puts the spell on Aurora, then watches over her as she grows up and begins to love her. Aurora even calls her, her "fairy god-mother". Towards the end it's Maleficent who kisses Aurora's head and as true loves first kiss, wakes her up. From there they live in the forest with the Prince and wood creatures happily ever after. Give me a MFing break! Maleficent was one of the best, scariest villains ever in cartoons when I was a kid. Now she's a hero?! This is like last year's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" where they made Leatherface the good guy. What next a movie with Cruela DeVille where she has some sad backstory on why she hates dogs, and by the end saves them all? There are heroes and villains, why is Hollywood making all the villains sympathetic and heroic? It just doesn't make sense to me. Wanna give her a sad back story to explain her actions? That's fine with me! But don't make her the hero of the movie, and even at the end say she was a "hero and a villain". She doesn't even turn into the dragon, she turns her shape shifting lacky into the dragon, but he doesn't get slayed. But why would he, he's a good guy here too! It's PG and is absolutely family friendly. But, kids should just stick with the original cartoon, and not this muddled up mess of a story. On the one bright side the movie is gorgeous to look at with some awesome effects. But, other than that, there isn't much to it. Just skip and watch when it's on Redbox. In 50 years, this movie will be forgotten, but the original cartoon will still be played as a classic.
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2014
Better known for his visual effects supervision on such films as "Life of Pi", and more significantly, as production designer on "Oz: The Great And Powerful" and winning Oscars for "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland", Robert Stromberg now delves into his first directorial outing with a reimagining of the classic fairy tale, "Sleeping Beauty". Much like the aforementioned "Oz", the characters from this well known children's story are playfully recreated in a lush and involving fantasy and with Stromberg's expertise who better to take us on that journey?!...

In a Kingdom halved by both fairies and humans, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a fairy who protects her half from human intruders. However, a childhood relationship she developed with a human named Stefan (Sharlto Copley) proves to be her undoing. Stefan has ambitions to be King one day and betrays the trust of Maleficent to achieve it. As a result, she curses his first born child, Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) to a death-like sleep on her 16th birthday that only a true-love's kiss can break.

Opening on a wondrous, enchanted land with fairies, nymphs and magical powers, we are introduced to the young Maleficant - the winged guardian of her idyllic, peaceful forest. From the outset we're definitely back in the realm of the fairy tale where Maleficent wasn't the evil villain with a grudge to bare but a caring fairy, pure of heart and who, quite frankly, got turned over. And this is exactly where "Maleficent" succeeds. It twists what we've come to know and invents a whole new story by ditching the mysogynistic reveries of righteous King's and handsome Prince's who's lip-locking charms can save a damsel in distress with a mere peck. This is more of a feminist revisioning as we get more of a backstory and focus on what is predominantly seen as the antagonist of this story. Much like Mila Kunis' portrayal of the Wicked Witch in "Oz" and Julia Roberts' Evil Queen from Snow White's story in "Mirror Mirror" we learn that their motivations derived from being scorned or abandoned by the men in their lives, lending a welcome complexity to these female characters - which brings me to Angelina Jolie's titular role. Throughout a film awash with CGI it's her that shines the most. She brings the requisite emotional depth and her motivations are entirely clear and understandable when really they were skimmed over in the classic 1959 Disney animation. It's hard to imagine anyone else being as perfectly suited to Maleficent as Jolie is and it ultimately works on her committed three-dimensional performance alone.

Another welcome addition to the proceedings is Stromberg's ability to combine the light and the dark. His expertise in the visual department is certainly on show and can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike but as much as Linda Woolverton's script dares to venture into the emotional turmoil of Maleficent, it doesn't bring much scope to the other characters. Fanning's Princess Aurora is given little to do but looked perplexed in this magical land and Copley's King Stefan has a slightly misplaced Scottish accent (see also his recent turn in "Oldboy"). As the title suggests, though, it isn't really about anyone else other than Maleficent and on that front, both the character and the performance, deliver the goods.

Despite it sagging slightly around the midway point this is, largely, an engaging and successful retelling that isn't afraid to conjure up some darkness from it's fantastical melting pot.

Mark Walker
Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2014
Angelina Jolie is radiant and delivers a complex performance in this decent retelling of the fairy tale, which also features dazzling visuals, a great score and a more than welcome modern message. It is a pity though that the director tones it down to a light Disney level instead of making it more urgent and epic.
TheDudeLebowski65
Super Reviewer
June 2, 2014
Pretty good action fantasy with splendid effects and good on-screen performances, Maleficent isn't a great movie, but it's nonetheless an exciting and engaging picture that possesses one of Angelina Jolie's best performances. With this film, you have a film that has some terrific visuals, and at times the story seems to be unfocused at times due to a lack of truly memorable ideas that happens on-screen. This is a good film, but it could have been so much better as well, luckily Angelia Jolie delivers on-screen, and she makes the role of Maleficent her own, and it's hard to picture someone else in the role. For the lack of truly memorable moments, Jolie is the film's saving grace, and overall it's good fantasy film, but it somewhat falls short of what it could have been. Nonetheless, if you enjoy this genre, you'll surely not be disappointed by this movie, as there is enough to satisfy fans of the story. However, for viewers looking for a truly great movie, you'll be disappointed because it has a short run time, and it leaves a few things to be desired. The script should have been slightly improved, because Maleficent could really have been a highly memorable fantasy film. As it is, it's a good film, but it also makes you wonder how good it could have been if the script would have been tweaked a bit. Luckily Angelina Jolie does great work here, and it's what makes this movie worth seeing. The film may have its imperfections, but for the most part, it succeeds at being entertaining from start to finish, and the cast are quite good opposite Jolie, and it's a good film that grabs you from the first frame onwards, and despite the fact it'[s not highly memorable, Maleficent is worth seeing.
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2014
Angelina Jolie is magnificent when she's maleficent - with that blithe drawl, those snaky horns, and them diamond-sharp cheekbones. Her portrayal of young Maleficent as a moorland fairy is a bit uneven though. Her voice is all shouty and her posture is all action hero-y, with no real indicator of the ethereal or powerful being lurking within if only a dastardly man would ravage her and uncover it (a cliched narrative device in itself).

This origin retelling is fair enough with some surprisingly funny bits, like the antics of the bumbling and long-suffering fairy godmothers, and the far-from-maternal Maleficent's encounter with five-year-old Aurora who insists on being picked up. Vivienne Jolie-Pitt is rather darling in that scene, and Angelina is uncharacteristically comically deadpan. Elle Fanning's face still bothers me, but she's a good cryer.

Spoilery:

If this reimagined depiction of true love had come out before "Frozen," I think we all would have found it more compelling. The motherly love shown here is still rather beautiful and heartrending, but I could actually predict it. I expected a happier treatment of romantic love too, but that hardly gets any due with the pretty but ineffectual Prince Phillip and the arrogant and vengeful King Stefan who can't do the logical thing of ending this feud against his first love. Why didn't anybody just say, "Look: Aurora's awake. No harm, no foul"?
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2014
You don't touch a classic, especially a classic character. That is the lesson learned with Maleficent. Sure Angelina Jolie gets believably lost in her character and is engaging to watch, but the film is an ultimate mess. It is mostly a frustrating watch because of missed opportunities; it could have been vastly better if it were anything like the original 1959 animated feature. But alas, the film suffers from poor writing, bad execution, and a strange back story that isn't moving nor necessary in the least. The film is also poorly timed and its tone is very uneven---the humorous parts feel out of the place and the darker parts feel as if they should have been from a better, more mature film. Additionally, there is no character development---not even for the titular character who goes from good to bad, bad to good in mere heartbeats, and the action sequences are anticlimatic. It's almost painful at times; the fairies are obnoxious, Elle Fanning's Aurora is dimwitted, and the prince is a useless character. This movie was unnecessary and it ruined a classic story.
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2014
This is one of the toughest films I've had to review in a very long time. From being borderline offensive to the fans of the original "Sleeping Beauty," to taking a completely new spin on the material and making you feel warm inside, "Maleficent" is a very mixed bag for me. Try and wrap your head around this, and I say this with the utmost honesty, this movie literally turns the table and makes it seem like the original film is giving you the finger, and no, not the other way around. A less effective film is making you feel like it's the one that should be appreciated. Angelina Jolie is terrific in the role, which is the main aspect that saves this film from suffering too much. By saying the plot of this film, it kind of spoils, so I will only say that it is told from a different perspective than the original film and you will not be able to watch "Sleeping Beauty" the same ever again. There are parts of this film that would be amazing if the original had never existed, but it does, so it is kind of confusing, although if you read between the lines of the original then I guess it will make sense. "Maleficent" is very effect-heavy and suffers from looking very similar to films such as AVATAR and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Overall, I will commend them for having the guts to change the story so much and taking chances, but sadly, most of them fail. I honestly don't think I will ever be able to say if I like or dislike this film. It's a good film on its own, but since "Sleeping Beauty" is around for reference it is really not. If you are a fan, I do recommend checking this film out just to see for yourself.
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