It is a dark film with dark moments. But the repentant essence that is brought to the script and performances easily casts aside any shadows and shines a redemptive light on the subject.
Some roles are custom fit for certain actors. Such is the case with Angelina Jolie as the evil fairy Maleficent. We can not deny her chops as a veteran actress and her list of accomplishments on screen speak for themselves. Off screen her days spent with Billy Bob Thornton wearing vials of each others blood is thankfully overshadowed by her humanitarian efforts and overcoming personal health issues of late. It is these two sides of her that make her performance here not only memorable but 100% believable.
This is a retelling of the classic Disney fairy tale Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the spell casting evil witch, Maleficent. (Jolie). Here we find out a bit of her back story and learn that she wasn't always bent on baby narcolepsy. As the musical Wicked shines light on The Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, so does this one for Maleficent. This telling also goes a long way in showing the regret and sorrow that she endure. It creates a very solid story full of powerful emotion that elevates it from just another classic story line. One you add in the action, superb cinematography, and interesting creatures you end up with a fantastic summer blockbuster.
Jolie captures the wide spectrum of feelings that drive and encompass the character. Often it is a simple facial tic or a widening of the eyes. You are always aware that she is engaging with the moment and we feel the tremors underneath. Often the camera will give us a tight shot of her face, veiled behind trees or a shroud of some kind. These moments take you back to the earlier Disney films that relied on such use of angles and camera work.They are wonderful moments and respected for what they give to the viewer.
The story stays pretty close to the original and super fans of Sleeping Beauty will appreciate the detail while willingly overlooking the new plot points. This one doesn't boast in its originality but borrows nicely from what decades of fans have come to love. Now let's talk about another minor character, yes that of Sleeping Beauty herself, Aurora (Elle Fanning). Although it is hard to find fault in her performance and even harder to think of another actress for the role Fanning is simply ok. She does what she needs to and easily captures the youthful exuberance of life. Elle holds her own with the seasoned Angelina and the two dance the dance quite well.
Maleficents rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images. Though fine for those 12 and older parents might want to be a bit cautious with smaller movie goers who may not be able to see past all the scary imagery. It is a dark film with dark moments. But the repentant essence that is brought to the script and performances easily casts aside any shadows and shines a redemptive light on the subject. You walk away feeling good about what just happened. I give it a strong 4.5 out of 5 raised eyebrows I beautiful companion to the original and a destined classic for this generation.
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