There are so few genuine movie stars left in this day and age. With pop culture completely submerged in social media, absolutely anyone on Earth can become famous with the right “skill” or YouTube video. Yet a handful of performers such as Tom Cruise, Will Smith, and Sandra Bullock continue to elevate the projects they partake in with their special brand of talent and charisma. Angelina Jolie is undoubtedly at the top of this list, and Maleficent terrifically demonstrates why that is the case.
Simply put, Jolie is downright spectacular in Maleficent. The voice, the mannerisms, the horns – every element of the iconic Disney villainess is brought to life with extraordinary detail and finesse. Jolie imbues the rule with a range of emotion, and she clearly relishes playing the role of a lifetime. The actress not only tackles the film’s dramatic beats beautifully, but she nails a number of comedic moments that prove to be enormously memorable. In the end, Jolie transcends the material and turns the legendary character into a complex, full-dimensional woman with depth and nuance.
Interestingly enough, the event that sets the film’s plot in motion (Maleficent and her wings), is a powerful metaphor for rape (as Jolie recently made clear). It’s inspired to witness the actress tackle a cause she so adamantly rallies against within a classic fairytale (her chilling screams during the scene in question are particularly harrowing). Has there ever been an actress more committed to her humanitarian causes and her craft? Wow.
In terms of weaknesses, Elle Fanning is somewhat frustrating as Aurora. Perhaps the blame lies in the script which doesn’t give her much to do besides grin like an idiot and befriend random forest creatures, but her role became irritating quite fast. In addition, I could have done with a bit less voiceovers. Angelina’s face is tremendously expressive, and she really doesn’t need so much exposition going on in the background to convey her thoughts and feelings.
Straying from spoilers, I will say that the film’s ending is a satisfying one, capably bringing the tale to a rousing (and surprisingly action-packed) conclusion. First-time director Robert Stromberg does an excellent job, and his production design experience from Avatar is effectively utilized in the film’s impressive CGI sequences. Furthermore, Maleficent’s musical score (courtesy of James Newton Howard) is suitably majestic, while the film’s final sequence feels pretty perfect.
Thankfully, I made the wise decision of watching the film in 2D. Apart from Avatar and Life of PI, the majority of the 3D films that I’ve seen have failed to capitalize on the technology, robbing movies of their brightness and detail. I would urge you to do the same, as Maleficent‘s color palette is a gorgeous one, and it would be a shame to have to experience the adventure in anything less.
Stunningly brought to life and spearheaded by Jolie’s phenomenal performance, Maleficent is a unique reimagining of the Sleepy Beauty tale. Highly recommended.