The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Maleficent (3D) | Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Elle Fanning, Imelda Staunton, Leslie Manville, Juno Temple | Review

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5sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT Judy Thorburn

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5lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT



Fifty five years after Disney's beloved classic animated fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, was released in 1959, the studio delivers a new, re-imagined spin on the fantasy that has all the right elements beginning with the perfect casting of Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie as the titled character. It's a role the beautiful and talented actress sinks her teeth into and wholeheartedly embodies, bringing emotional depth to the complex, multi layered character we were always led to believe was an evil witch from the get go.  It's virtually impossible to take your eyes off of Jolie, adorned in a horn-shaped headdress, bright red lips, and pointy cheekbones, who commands the screen with her charismatic and thoroughly bewitching performance.

The taglines for this new live action flick are “Evil has a beginning. Don't believe the fairy tale.” Retold from Maleficent's point of view we are given a backstory that proves she wasn't born evil.  It turns out, cruel circumstances led to her transformation and motivation behind the wretched curse she planted on the innocent princess.

Actually, Maleficent starts off as a sweet natured young fairy (Isobelle Malloy) with huge, powerful wings, who is loved by all of the creatures big and small dwelling in her beloved magical forest kingdom that she protects from feared humans. Only after letting her guard down, bonding with and falling for a young human male named Stefan (Jackson Bews) that wanders into the moors, and later viciously betrays her as part of his unyielding, ruthless quest for power, does she turn to the dark side and become a villain.

Consumed by hatred and revenge, and committed to protecting the land she loves and presides over, after Stefan becomes King (now played by Sharlto Copley, District 9), Maleficent targets his baby daughter, Princess Aurora. Sneaking into the palace at the child's christening, she plants a spell on Aurora that will take hold on her 16th birthday.  That is when the young Princess will prick her finger on a needle of a spinning wheel causing her to fall into an eternal coma-like sleep that only a true love's kiss could awaken.

In an effort to protect her, the King sends Aurora (played by Jolie’s daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt as a five year old and Elle Fanning as a teen) off to be raised and cared for by three inept, but well meaning pixie fairies (Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville, lending comic relief) in a remote cottage until the day after she turns sixteen.

Secretly watching over Aurora, as she grows into a beautiful, happy teen, Maleficent's heart begins to melt and she soon regrets the curse she had put on the princess. Meanwhile, constantly at Maleficent's side is her loyal companion and ally, Diaval (Sam Riley), a raven she saved from death who she transforms into a man, wolf, horse, or dragon whenever it suits her needs.

Working from a compelling story by screenwriter Linda Woolverton, (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast), two time Oscar winning production designer (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland) Robert Stromberg, making his directorial debut, brings his distinctive, artistic vision to the film with the help of a team of amazing special effects wizards to create a breathtaking, immersive fantasy world that comes alive right before our eyes.  What's more, the enfolding, totally absorbing story, featuring a wonderful accompanying score by James Newton Howard, is enhanced by the effective 3D.

While some Sleeping Beauty purists may have trouble with the new take on the old story, I found the themes of redemption, forgiveness, the many natures of love, and the several twists and turns, especially the clever one at the end, to be very rewarding.

I suppose one can pick apart the film and find some faults.  But if so, none ever detract from this absolutely beautifully crafted, enchanting movie that exceeded my expectations.  To sum it up, Malificent is simply magnificent.


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