Film review: Maleficent

A fun movie, not just for wannabe Disney princesses, but for anyone who likes a little darkness to their fairytales.

Joanna Berry

Director: Robert Stromberg

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

Four stars

With Disney already having turned just about every story about a fairy-tale princess into a movie (and a range of dolls), it was only a matter of time before they started reinventing their own classics, such as Cinderella (Kenneth Branagh’s new take on that one coming your way in 2015). In the case of Maleficent, the story of Sleeping Beauty, it’s a stroke of genius, as the wicked fairy who casts a spell to send Princess Aurora to sleep is far more interesting than some snoozing blonde in a ball gown, and it is made even more so by a terrific performance from Angelina Jolie as the good-gal-gone-bad.

Betrayed by her childhood love, Maleficent seeks revenge on all humans. The director Robert Stromberg – best known for his visual effects on such movies as The Hunger Games, The Golden Compass and Pan’s Labyrinth – delivers a stunning treat for the eyes, whether in mounting one of Maleficent’s battles, complete with raging fire and soaring flight scenes, or filling the fairy world with goblin-like creatures, walking and talking trees and Aurora’s pesky fairy guardians (played by Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple).

The greatest effect of all, however, is Jolie’s striking appearance – all big eyes and sharp-as-razor cheekbones, plus some very impressive fairy wings – only matched by her witty, cool and surprisingly moving performance. A fun movie, not just for wannabe Disney princesses, but for anyone who likes a little darkness in their fairy tales.

Published: May 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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