Saturday, March 14, 2015

Maleficent (2014)

Maleficent: adapted by Linda Woolverton from previous material written by the Brothers Grimm, Milt Banta, Ralph Wright, Ted Sears, Bill Peet, Winston Hibler, Joe Rinaldi, Erdman Penner, and Charles Perrault; directed by Robert Stromberg; starring Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Elle Fanning (Aurora), Sharlto Copley (Stefan), and Sam Riley (Diaval) (2014): 

First-time director Stromberg was a production designer, and it shows: Maleficent's main charms lie in the design of its magical world. Well, that and the CGI flying sequences. Clearly we can now make a Hawkman or Hawkwoman movie a live-action reality. Somebody notify Time Warner.

Maleficent is a revisionist retelling of Sleeping Beauty -- specifically Walt Disney's 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty. Angelina Jolie is the evil witch (now Queen of the Fairies, I think) from that movie, only now she has an origin story and a change of heart. Sharlto Copley is the evil king who was once Maleficent's beloved but ultimately treacherous peasant boy. Elle Fanning barely registers as Princess Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty.

Really, this movie stinks when it comes to plot, characterization, motivation, pacing... you know, all that old-fashioned stuff. Jolie is fine, I guess. And it's definitely progress that a big box-office hit (about $800 million world-wide) can be headlined by a female star. Now if we could just get our female stars some decently written and directed blockbusters, we might really be onto something. Male stars, too. Not recommended.

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