Maleficent (PG)

Directed by Robert Stromberg
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

Sleeping Beauty's baddie is one of the most memorable Disney villains and the striking design of her look is reflected in the subtle alterations to Angelina Jolie's face. She's one of the most recognisable actresses in the world, but those angular cheekbones and yellow eyes plus some seriously epic horns make her even more dazzling.
This film is that popular contemporary genre, the origin story. What made Maleficent the evil witch? Well it turns out to be Sharlto Copley's extremely bad Scottish accent and some other pretty weak motives. Copley, so good in Distict 9 all those years ago has been pretty awful in almost everything else since! He's not well served by a very thin plot, where the baddies are more 2 dimensional than their cartoon counterparts of yesteryear.
More fun (if terribly creepy looking) are the three fairies entrusted with young princess Aurora's care, who provide the main comic relief. Elle Fanning as teen Aurora is very sweet and I liked the dynamic between Aurora and Maleficent, but to be honest, I wish there had been a bit more evil to the evil queen! Jolie digs out her old Lara Croft British accent (all Hollywood baddies are Brits of course) but never seems terribly evil for more than about 5 minutes. It is the betrayal by her childhod sweetheart that makes her so cold and isolated. However, her bond with Aurora is what saves her, and that revisionist view of true love is very sweet and charming. Also loved seeing Angie and Brad Pitt's daughter Vivienne as toddler Aurora! Apparently she was the only 5 year old they could find who wasn't terrified by Maleficent's costume. Guess having your mum behind the horns helps!
Sadly, like so many film recently, there is a big CGI battle scene at the end - yes even in a fairy tale! But it isn't too long thankfully. Why does EVERY film need action scenes??
The film is gorgeous to look at and judging by how packed the screening was I went to (including a crying baby a few rows in front of me) will be a hit with families. Jolie's mesmerising performance carries the action but it's lightweight plot is a little disappointing.

May 2014

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