Maleficent explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic 'Sleeping Beauty' and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone.
Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent (Jolie) cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora (Fanning). As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realises that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.
Maleficent's back story is thin at best
The overall concept of this movie is to do what 'Wicked' done for the Wizard of Oz's, Wicked Witch of the West. The differences between that film and this film are vast. Wicked gave us a back story which in turn gave a rich texture to the character's complexity. Maleficent's back story is thin at best. It's soft around the edges and far less compelling. So why should we care?
Angelina Jolie is rather disappointing. It makes sense for someone of her statue to take on a role such as this. She has that quality as an actor to give us a convincing portrayal but what we are given is a performance lacking any sort of focus— deciding to play Maleficent 'straight' lends itself to being a painful watch.
The general story-arc relies on the 'curse.' After the curse is placed on little Aurora, Maleficent focuses in on her, much like the animated version. Maleficent is never too far away from Aurora, telling the baby she hates her and calling her 'Beastie.' It's these moments where Maleficent ultimately falls down. It's script is far too two-dimensional for a story so rich in heritage.
Maleficent is far too sinister to like
The best moments within the story are those snippets of dialogue that have been directly stolen from Sleeping Beauty. The screenwriters clearly use this method to engage us, but in doing so, tie themselves up in knots. The big 'curse' scene is the undoing of the narrative. Maleficent is far too sinister for us to truly like, and for some unfathomable reason, the stakes are lessened on the 'curse' by the writers halfway in, and we are then forced to warm to Maleficent but in doing so, are far less interested in her.
Maleficent will be a must watch for any die hard Disney or Sleeping Beauty fan. They'll be the only audience wanting to watch this lacklustre movie. As for the average moviegoer, spend your money on something else, you'll be glad you did.