FILM REVIEW: MALEFICENT (PG)

There were high expectations for Angelina Jolie’s pet project – but sadly this take on Sleeping Beauty turns out to be ho-hum fare.

It’s obvious that director Robert Stromberg has a visionary background (after winning Oscars for both Alice in Wonderland and Avatar for Art Direction) – as backdrops in Maleficent prove to be luscious eye-candy – but he makes rookie mistakes as this fantasy adventure has an uncertain tone.

It’s a touch too dark for the young ‘uns – with a few scenes of menace – and never really joyful enough for older kids, as Disney uncharacteristically provides a film that never really gets out of third gear.


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It’s great to see one of fairy tale’s most iconic female villains get to weave her story, and for the most part Jolie nails it as the famous double-horned title character, but the overall script doesn’t truly engage like it should.

Maleficent was once a joyful young fairy with an idyllic life in the forest kingdom until an invading army from neighbouring lands – after learning of her power – threaten the harmony of the region.

And when a boy she befriends literally clips Maleficent’s wings – so he can claim the throne (District 9’s Sharlto Copley) – she turns bitter and twisted, and casts an unbreakable curse on the king’s newborn daughter Aurora – who after her sixteenth birthday will fall into a permanent deep sleep.

But as princess Aurora gets whisked to safety out of the gaze of civilisation by three hapless fairies – led by Imelda Staunton’s Knotgrass – in an attempt to keep her from harm, Maleficent proves she isn’t quite as stone-hearted, by keeping tabs on her from afar after locating her hideout.

And when a now-adult Aurora (Super 8’s Elle Fanning) befriends Maleficent – who she believes to be her ‘fairy godmother’ after watching over her for all these years – the mellowing evil fairy takes a shine to the princess, and after an attack of conscience tries to do everything in her power to reverse her cruel spell.


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But while there’s visually much to like, there’s never really any meat in Maleficent’s sandwich – complete with seen-it-all-before special effects set-pieces – to make it breakout from barely watchable mediocrity.

Copley is miscast as the king, a sorely underused Fanning pretty much smiles gleefully with minimal dialogue – and it’s down to Jolie’s sidekick Diaval (a raven who can switch into human form played by Brit actor Sam Riley) to provide much-needed comic relief.

Ultimately, despite Jolie’s best efforts, what should have been a magnificent win – turns into a magnanimous defeat.

Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date showtimes for Peterborough Showcase. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase CinemasUK’.

Gavin Miller

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville, JunoTemple & Brenton Thwaites

Running Time: 1hr 35mins

Director: Robert Stromberg [youtube id=”w-XO4XiRop0″ width=”600″ height=”350″]

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