Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharito Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Brenton Thwaites, Kenneth Cranham
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton
From someone who really wasn’t a fan of Disney’s last two “fairytale” / “classic” reboots, I have to say that “Maleficent’ was a vast improvement from them both. “Oz the Great and Powerful” was one of the worst films of last year, and I couldn’t even sit through “Alice and Wonderland”. But since the success of “Frozen”, it seems like Disney has been improving their female story telling and “Maleficent” is a strong film, despite some of its flaws. Angelina Jolie, whose beauty pops through the silver screen, is definitely not one of them.
In the title role of Maleficent, Angelina Jolie plays the “villain” in the good old “Sleeping Beauty” tale. However, the film focuses on her instead, and shows us Maleficent’s side of the story. Her misunderstood life starts from a young age as she protects her home and falls for a young boy, Stefan, who would sooner or later be the King of the land and her worst enemy. Here, we follow Maleficent through her life, leading up to the events made famous by the classic Disney cartoon musical film.
Jolie is by far the star everybody thinks she is. Slipping into the black leather and horns, Jolie reveals that her past camp roles (especially the ones that were utter failures) can be forgotten now. “Maleficent” will be Jolie’s signature role to the vast audience, though nothing still tops her performance in 1999’s “Girl, Interrupted”. Rightfully so though, her performance is as iconic as she is. Casting her was right, because Jolie’s vampish good looks and screen presence brought to life Disney’s Maleficent that we’ve all been obsessing about since we see the cartoon as children. It’s partly novelty, but she was undeniably good. Though, the screenplay was weak at points.
Though it’s great that “Maleficent” followed the path of “Frozen”, storytelling-wise (you’ll know when you watch the film), I sure hope that not all Disney movies follow this. To be honest, the ending was sweet, but I thought it was the weakest part of the entire screenplay. It felts so rehashed and used way to soon. I don’t want to spoil it but unfortunately the film started going down hill 15 minutes before it ended, and that’s really just quite sad. It sad because it was going so well. I was not a fan of the ending AT ALL.
My last issue with the film would be that I thought the film really wasted some of its production design potential. First of all, the costumes and sets were to die for. All of Jolie’s costumes were beautifully crafted, and the gothic production design was a feast for the eyes. But it ended there. The gothic parts of the film were the true highlights, but everything else (the happy forrest and colourful scenes which might have been great) just fell flat. Based on “Oz” and “Alice”, I feel like Disney may be too ambitious with their CGI production design and it always ends up looking like a mess. The film would have remained my favourite sets and costumes of the year if they stayed dark and gothic.
The film was very strong. Sadly, some of it fell short (minor things, though). “Maleficent” was a great effort because it had a great nostalgic kick and a star role from a woman as great as Jolie who hardly appears on the silver screen anymore. Though it probably won’t be part of the lists of the greatest films of 2014, I’m certain that people will remember it for years on end.