Maleficent – Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville
In cinemas May 30th
You can’t have failed to notice posters for this absolutely everywhere featuring an even more uber-cheekboned than usual Angelina Jolie looking all vamp like. She is playing the live action version of the titular Disney super villain who was responsible for cursing Sleeping Beauty in the classic animated tale. However this version gives the story a whole new spin and all is not as you think you knew.
Having been betrayed by Stefan (Copley – surely one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood) so that he can become king, evil fairy Maleficent vows revenge. She surrounds the kingdom with a wall of thorns and when she learns that he and his wife have had a daughter Aurora (played by Fanning as she gets older) she curses the infant to prick her finger on a spinning wheel before the sun sets on her 16th which will cause her to fall into a deep sleep that only true loves kiss can wake her from. Fearful for his child’s life Stefan sends her away with three pixies whom he orders to raise her until the deadline for the curse has passed in the hopes of averting it.
So far so traditional. However, this is Maleficent’s story so here we get to see how she amused her self for the 16-years until the curse was implemented. She watches over the “beast” ensuring no harm comes to her before her revenge is exacted. However the angelic child slowly begins to win over the vindictive sorceress and as the day of reckoning beckons Maleficent begins to rethink her curse.
This looks simply magnificent. Everything, including Jolie, is larger than life and the colour palette is stunning and used to great effect. The story puts an interesting spin on the tale which should keep both old and new fans alike happy. Jolie is well cast in the lead – not just because of her striking resemblance to the character but also because she manages to show the softness and hurt beneath her gruff exterior. Her daughter Vivienne makes a brief appearance as the young Aurora and shows early signs of following in her famous parents footsteps. Copley is fantastic as the tortured Stefan who is driven to the brink of madness by the fate that hangs over him. He is a super actor and really deserves more mainstream roles. All the rest of the supporting cast do an admirable job and Fanning is suitably ethereal as Aurora aka Sleeping Beauty. However this is Jolie’s film and she makes the most of it, completely stealing the show and looking stunning throughout.
Some of the CGI is a bit on the dodgy side but I can forgive that when the rest of the movie is so epic. Everything is done on a huge scale and Stromberg has done a great job creating the world of the film. It is a bit slow to get going and dips a bit when Aurora is living with the Pixies but on the whole the pacing is good and it doesn’t outstay its welcome.