They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Apparently, that saying applies tenfold to fairies. Angelina Jolie is stunning in her role as Maleficent, from her impeccable blood red lips to those perfectly carved cheekbones, but unfortunately she’s found herself in a film that feels half developed. While Jolie’s accent provides cringe worthy moments whenever her volume rises above a speaking voice, that was the biggest issue with her performance.
The picture’s redeeming feature was the kick of comedy, which took something away from the fairy tale essence and offered something to be interested in. As far as the creation of this fairy tale land, there’s certainly a reason director Robert Stromberg has two Oscars in art direction. Maleficent had the essential structure of a fairy tale; magic, an ‘evil’ presence (human nature, in this case), lessons to be learned and cute fluffy creatures to ooh and ah over. What it lacked, however, was a solid exposition. Maleficent cursing her ex-boyfriend’s new baby didn’t seem to ring true, and the film’s moral compass didn’t seem to know where it was trying to point.
A lot of the storyline felt under explained. For example, why was she so ENORMOUS compared to the three good fairies, played by Lesley Manville as Flittle, Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass, and Juno Temple as Thistletwit? She’s probably 50 times bigger than they are! Also, Maleficent’s redemption doesn’t really carry over to the audience in the full and complete way it seems to with Aurora. Speaking of which, Elle Fanning is fantastic as Aurora, wonderfully portraying the character’s naivety and innocence.
While I walked in expecting a re-vamping of the original story, I wasn’t prepared for a full overhaul, including the removal of several key parts. True love’s kiss, for instance, took a turn that I still don’t exactly know what to make of. It’s been called a “feminist twist,” but it seems like they were trying to portray that true love doesn’t have to come from a romantic interest, more the love found in friendship or between family members. This point falls flat since, you know, there is a prince. In fact, when Aurora awoke, it was unintentionally laughable, which definitely wasn’t the reaction the filmmakers were going for.
It’s worth seeing to get the humour that comes from Jolie and Sam Riley, who plays Diaval, or to get more of younger Fanning, but don’t set your expectations astoundingly high. I’d aim a little lower than Oz The Great and Powerful.
Reel Score: 5/10