Directed by Robert Stromberg
Starring Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville & Juno Temple
In UK Cinemas May 28th, 2014
In US Cinemas May 30th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Maleficent is the untold story of Disney’s iconic villain from the 1959 animation Sleeping Beauty.   A modernized live action tale with a blatant homage to Disney’s original film, Maleficent is played brilliantly by Angelina Jolie in this Sleepy Beauty story told from the perspective of the “evil villain”.

Blurring the line between hero and villain is central to the plot of Maleficent.  Jolie portrays the fairy Maleficent who is betrayed by King Stefan whom she once loved.  She becomes set on a dark path of vengeance as her once pure heart turns cold and bitter.  Set on taking revenge against the king, Maleficent puts a curse on his newborn daughter Aurora so that on the eve of her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deathly sleep for all of eternity.  The spell can only be broken by true love’s kiss, a concept that Maleficent believes to be a farce.

While there are many visual similarities, the differences in plot between this Disney version of the Sleeping Beauty story and the 1959 animation are so great that you are almost better off not seeing the original and going into this one anew.  Both takes on the story have their own merit for different reasons, both depicting rather dark imagery and subject matter for a children’s film.  Although in the screening I attended, the only time children screamed was during the kissing scenes.

A dark twist on an already dark fairy tale, Maleficent will entertain adults as much as it captures the imaginations of the children it doesn’t scare away.  The sound and visuals are blockbuster and the humour pleasantly tongue in cheek.  Speaking of cheek, Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones steal this entire movie.  Jolie is one great beauty who doesn’t need cheekbone implants, but the fact that they are added in makeup to enhance the angles of her face, make her even more mesmerizing to watch.  She is physically stunning and a brilliant actress.  Her English accent as Maleficent does not faulter once, and she brings a truly empathetic quality to this otherwise “evil” figure.  She has also mastered an evil laugh for this role, all in all making her the perfect choice for this character and the visual homage to the original Disney animated version.

To be honest, anything could happen in this film and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference – Angelina Jolie owns this role, owns this film and owns the audience for the entire duration of her screen time.  This film could not have been made with any other actress in the role.  For her on screen presence alone, this film is a must watch in the cinema, as there is no chance the audience could fall into a deep sleep with Angelina Jolie commanding their attention.

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