Saturday, November 8, 2014

Maleficent

Maleficent with Angelina Jolie
Evil has a beginning
Earlier this week I saw Maleficent (2014), Disney's dark fantasy re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty. The movie was vaguely on my radar, mainly because of the ginormous billboard for it in the Disney Studios, but I hadn't really warmed up to it for two reasons:
  1. I'm not all that into fairy tale adaptations. Unlike their comic book counterparts, I don't find them particularly entertaining or even remarkable. That hasn't stopped Hollywood from cranking them out -- Alice in Wonderland (2010), Red Riding Hood (2011), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) -- only further making them heartless run-of-the-mill productions.
  2. Angelina Jolie doesn't sink my battleship. Sure, she's pretty (altough she's definitely not "sexiest woman alive" material, excuse you), extremely brave, and a great huminatarian, but her acting performances are just so-so. Wanted and Salt were enjoyable, but you can only make the same movie so many times.
But hey, why should all this factor in on family movie night?

Maleficent (Jolie) is a young fairy presiding over the Moors, a magical realm bordering a human kingdom. She shares a special friendship with peasant boy Stefan, eventually even falling in love with him, but his affection, as it turns out, is secondary to more materialistic motivations. To gain the throne, Stefan (Sharlto Copley) drugs Maleficent and cuts off her wings with iron. Upon realizing that she was betrayed, Maleficient's heart grows into stone, and she becomes hell-bent on revenge, placing a cruel and irrevocable curse upon Stefan's newborn infant Aurora (Elle Fanning). It entails that on her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, causing her to fall into a death-like sleep. 

Angelina Jolie comes 100% correct as classic Disney villain Maleficent, delivering a brilliant performance even with little depth to fall back on. It's a shame that the plot has less meat on it than, well, Angie herself, because Malificent's dark and menacing story of origin is certainly something that would spark my interest. Alas, debut director Robert Stromberg goes for the "All CGI, all the time" approach, throwing sensibility and plot development to the wind, to hand in a bleak reinvention that is a little bit of everything, but in the end nothing that remains with you. 

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