MOVIE REVIEWS

Maleficent:

7/10 NR

May 28, 2014

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Nice re-interpretation of the sleeping beauty children's tale. Angelina Jolie has some really good moments in which a simple smile from her can make you shit your pants, although the interpretation is, in some parts, irregular. Elle Fanning is not a good option as "the Beauty" in the same way Kristen Stewart wasn't for Snow White. Angelina eats completely her role as Charlize Theron eat Stewart's. Sharito Copley has a great performance, as always, and the FX are really decent.

When I first read about this movie I was not entirely sure whether I liked the idea or not. After having watched it I have to say that I really liked it. It is a nice fairy tale based on the Sleeping Beauty but from the perspective of the evil fairy (who is not really that evil actually) instead. As far as I am concerned the concept worked surprisingly well.

Obviously the story is highly rewritten compared to the original Sleeping Beauty story. Whether that is good or bad is probably a matter of personal opinion. I think it is good since it allowed to story in the movie to have its own merits and not be too dependent on the original. It works for me since the original story is not very present except and thus you do not get any annoyed every so often because the deviate from the “original” since the movie clearly demonstrated that it intended to be quite different from the start.

The movie is quite beautiful with a typical fairy-tale air to it and at the same time dark and ominous during the scenes that required it. There are plenty of CGI of course and, to me, it was all quite well done. Angeline Jolie did a good job as Maleficent. I was actually less impressed by the three fairies that were supposed to take care of the princess though. They tried to be funny but it never really became very funny.

On the whole I found this to be a very enjoyable movie. So did the kids by the way. When I watched it (with the kids) the kids had already watched it twice.

Today, June 4, I went to see Maleficent on the birthday of its star, Angelina Jolie. In itself, nothing more than a funny coincidence, although when you think about it, it is customary for someone who is celebrating their birthday, to hand out treats. And boy, this was the best treat ever.

Three reasons why I was completely stoked to see Maleficent after hearing about it for the first time about a year and a half ago: 1) I love Angelina. 2) I love Sleeping Beauty. 3) Maleficent is my favourite fairy tale villain of all time. On the other hand, I was also a little wary of the way they had apparently altered the story. See, if there is one thing I hate in films, it's when they explain and justify the motives and reasons why a certain character is "bad". I for one believe that some people are just plain evil and that's the way it is. And going into this persons' childhood and explaining how bad everything was (or something to that effect) only works to weaken that characters' force. Now, I don't know why a somewhat clichéd story about the love and betrayal of a young Maleficent (who apparently used to be good and pure-hearted), worked here, but somehow it just did. It completely surprised me, to be honest. I'm usually allergic to this kind of fluff, but it worked! Maleficents' back-story actually intrigued me, moved me even. And it succeeded at what it was supposed to do in the first place: it made Maleficent human.

In the end though, they could have written any kind of story about what is undoubtedly Disney's most beloved villainess, it never would have been raised to an above-par level without its most crucial element: Angelina Jolie. I might sound biased because I'm such a fan, but I am perfectly able to look at her performances in a critical way, and I can only say this about her performance as Maleficent: she was in one word, perfect. I honestly can't imagine any other actress who could have approached this role with the same flawless combination of properties (short of maybe Charlize Theron): she is beautiful and very charismatic, yet at the same time undeniably cruel and cold. She was everything I had hoped this real life characterization of Maleficent would be, and then some.

Compliments also go out to the three other main actors in this film. First to Elle Fanning, for being very convincing as the young princess Aurora. She is sweet, lovely and kind and she has the right personality to play this famous princess just the way she should be. Second, to Sam Riley, who was a pleasant surprise as Maleficents' pet raven Diaval in human form. I was thus far unfamiliar with his work, but he was very well suited to his role and I enjoyed watching him. Last, but certainly not least, Sharlto Copley, who has already thrilled me with his performances in District 9 and Elysium, and who has now definitely made a fan out of me. His range is awesome and he was totally terrifying as Stefan.

OK, there are some things you have to look past. My first, and most blatant, issue with this film is: if young Maleficent was a good, pure- hearted girl, then why did she, as an innocent 10-year-old, already have evil-looking horns, devilish wings and is she called "Maleficent"? Right… Secondly, I found the three pixies to be very unconvincing and even somewhat annoying CGI-wise. Overall the special effects are well done but the pixies were definitely an eyesore. The dragon in the end also looked a bit unreal.

That being said, Maleficents' costumes and make-up were absolutely stunning. I just couldn't get enough of gazing at her intricate headdresses and beautiful gowns. The costume and styling department really deserve top credit and I truly hope there will be some awards for them in the near future. The music was also great, with flawless scoring by James Newton Howard and a terrific rendition of "Once upon a dream" by Lana Del Rey over the end credits. Also, awesome battle scenes and action sequences galore!

Going into this film, I thought it would be nothing more than a so-so, kind of fun summer flick. A 6.5/7 maybe. Sometimes, I love it when I'm wrong. Out of the three films that I've seen at the cinema over the last week (the other two being X-Men and Godzilla, both disappointments…) I can tell you, Maleficent was by far the most gratifying. Perhaps because I had relatively low expectations, perhaps because it was simply that good.

One serious warning for the rough, rugged men out there: this film features pixies, fairies, sparkly thingies and magical fluff out the wazoo. If you're going to see this, do it for Angelina. If not, treat this film like kryptonite. You will thank me later.

To everyone else: go see this film. It will rock your socks off. Maleficent is magnificent.
_(June 2014)_

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