Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Yes, it’s sort of an unnecessary Disney reboot, and No, it’s not that faithful to the original Sleeping Beauty.
But Angelina Jolie is so perfect as the titular villain/heroine that you may not even care.
Maleficent is truly a showcase of Jolie at her best — and when she’s good, she’s good. But whenever she’s offscreen, the movie immediately becomes mediocre, even boring, and sort of drags. She outshines any and all special effects, and brings a surprising amount of humor to the darker film. You might even laugh out loud.
But the rest of the cast and characters of Maleficent aren’t nearly as compelling. Sharlto Copley is less than convincing as King Stefan, Elle Fanning pretty much just walks around and smiles for an hour and a half, the Prince Phillip character seems to have been thrown in last minute, and the “god-mother fairies” are borderline annoying.
The continuity’s a little messy — why is Maleficent looking over Sleeping Beauty in the first place? — and “Sleeping Beauty” is asleep for all of three minutes. But Maleficent is a surprisingly solid outing when it really had no right to be.
Maleficent is a special-effects-driven fantasy adventure, but Angelina Jolie is easily the most dazzling thing on the screen. It may not always work, but Maleficent is a dramatic, heartfelt and funny “reimagining” of an old classic.
Maleficent is rated PG for “sequences of fantasy action and violence, and scary images.” Maleficent is definitely darker than most Disney fairy tales, but it’s fine for older kids who aren’t easily scared by creepy creatures.
© Matt Tory, 2014.