Maleficent (2014)

Maleficent (2014)

Director: Robert Stromberg
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

In this retelling of Disney's Sleeping Beauty, we follow a young Maleficent from her childhood innocence to her fall into darkness, leading to the curse placed on the infant Princess Aurora. However, the familiar story does not quite play out the way you expect.

I know Angelina Jolie is immensely popular with some people, but she never really appealed to me. I tend to be prone to hype backlash, so perhaps her fame is the primary repellant rather than any insufficiency in her ability as an actress. Still, trying to look at things objectively, she just doesn't appeal to me. As such, putting her in the title role and setting her against the incomparable Eleanor Audley is going to lead to an unfavorable comparison. Nevertheless, credit where credit's due, I don't think she did that bad in the role. Because we live in a universe where a remake/reimagining doesn't nullify the existence of the original, this film can occupy its own little space with no ill effect.

I have to admit, I was surprised at how far Disney was willing to go in a revisionist take on their own canon. Considering films like this and the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I don't like taking cartoon villains and digging up their childhood to ameliorate or otherwise soft-serve their villainy. That being said, they did a decent job of showing Maleficent's fall (though I wonder why her name was Maleficent when she was good; that's like having the friendly neighborhood milkman being named Damien Satanson before he gets possessed by Pazuzu). How they do it was particularly interesting, but I won't get into spoiler territory here.

The special effects are good and for someone who grew up on Disney's Sleeping Beauty, this movie does some interesting things with the story as you know it. If you're an Angelina Jolie fan, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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