Monday, 2 June 2014

Film Review: "Maleficent" (2014).

“I will not ask you for forgiveness. What I have done is unforgivable. I was so lost in hatred and revenge. I never dreamed that I could love you so much. You stole what was left of my heart. And now I've lost you forever.” Which isn’t isn’t exactly what you’d expect from the infamous character, from the famous fairy tale, but Maleficent is not that story. This dark fantasy adventure film is directed by Robert Stromberg from a screenplay written by Linda Woolverton. The film is a live-action re-imagining of Walt Disney's 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty, and portrays the story from the perspective of the antagonist, Maleficent. It tells the story of a vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.

The film stars Angelina Jolie as the eponymous Disney villainess herself, Maleficent. In this film, Angelina Jolie's magnetic performance outshines the film's dazzling special effects. And unfortunately, the movie around her fails to justify all that impressive effort. The whole film rides on the strength of Angelina Jolie's performance and she is, in a word, magnificent. This is Jolie's film because of the Maleficent she had created. Everyone else, even Aurora who all gave brilliant performances, fade in her presence.

Robert Stromberg's Maleficent sacrifices the original 1959 classic's narrative coherence and much of its heart but it's an undeniable visual treat. The film works for its moments of delight, humor and bedazzlement. However, it also becomes more ordinary as it goes along, building to a generic battle climax similar to any number of others in CGI-heavy movies of the past few years, much like other films such as Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). Stromberg has delivered a witty, brilliantly cast, whimsically appointed dazzler that also manages to hit all the emotionally satisfying marks. Ultimately, it's the visual landscape that makes this film the newest incarnation so dull, as technology has finally been able to catch up with Disney's endlessly fertile and magical imagination. It suffers from some tonal inconsistency and a deflated sense of wonder, but the film still packs enough visual dazzle and clever wit to be entertaining in its own right. If there are post-Harry Potter children who don't know or care about Sleeping Beauty, they might be at sea with this story about a complex female hero/villain in a magic land, but long-term Disney watchers will be enchanted and enthralled. But no movie ever can, or will, replace the 1959 film, this eye-filling fantasy is an derivative riff on how Maleficent became the infamous character she is known today and how she is ultimately misunderstood. The film is expansive and larger-than-life in scope overall. Jolie in particular hams it up and is often playing to the balcony. The 3D is utilized just as it should be in a children's fantasy epic such as this – overtly, but with skill. Fireflies, magic forests and mysterious animals all leap through the screen towards the audience as the story unfolds.

Simon says Maleficent receives:

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