Maleficent is the retelling of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” fairytale, but it centers around the titular character as she grows from an innocent child to an angry and vengeful adult. We are given context to why Maleficent put the infamous curse on the Princess, and we see her become the Sleeping Beauty we know from folklore. This story changes the dynamic of good versus evil and creates a very interesting grey area for all the characters in this story. Maleficent become an anti-hero in this version of the tale and Jolie does a great job giving the character more than one note. This movie has some promising aspect, but ultimately ends up being forgettable yet enjoyable.
Obviously, the reason many people are going to see this movie is because of Angelina Jolie, who plays Maleficent. I can assure you that she does a fantastic job as the Evil Queen of the Fairies here. She brings the perfect level of gravitas and star power to a role that could’ve easily been overacted. She holds her head up with level of arrogance that is fascinating to see when coupled with her make-up and horns. Her accent is believable and it seems like she really enjoyed herself in this role. Probably the best parts of the film are her interactions with the other characters. There is one small scene where she tries to scare baby Aurora that is hilarious to watch. Her character arc is believable and Jolie brings enough subtly to make the transitions work. The weakest part of her performance is her dialogue during really key points in the movie. It’s hard to take her seriously when she saying some of the lines written for her, but this is due to a larger issue with the writing. The script, written by Linda Woolverton, has a few plot holes and and a pretty weak third act. The twist halfway through the film is interesting, but not all that surprising. The CGI in the film is not going for realism, and works for the most part.
The other performances were solid. The three pixies, played Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville, give the film some of it lighthearted and funny moments. Diaval, played by Sam Riley, gives a fine performance, although they could’ve done more with his character. Aurora is played by Elle Fanning and despite not being a very complex character I really enjoyed her. She played the slightly annoying goodie-two-shoes perfectly.
Overall, this film is just alright. Jolie gives a great performance but that isn’t enough for me to give a full recommendation here. I think this film is worth a rent when it comes out on DVD. The acting is good, the make-up and set design are great, but its the plot (the most important part of a film) that is pretty dull and uninspiring…. but slightly entertaining.