Movie Review: Maleficent

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maleficentJoy for Jolie.  With majestic wings, pointy horns, glowing eyes and enhanced cheekbones, Angelina Jolie (“Wanted”) is a magnetic and menacing presence.  Elle Fanning (“Super 8”) as Aurora, unfortunately, isn’t given much to do beyond dressing pretty and smiling incessantly, which is a shame, since Fanning is a talented young actress.

A re-imagined origin story, Maleficent is a humanized version of the iconic villain from “Sleeping Beauty,” a pure-hearted fairy who suffers an unspeakable cruelty at the hands of a loved one, a human and future king (Sharlto Copley, “Elysium“). She grows vengeful, leading her to bestow the infamous, eternal sleep curse on the king’s baby daughter, Aurora.

With a running time of 97 minutes, the movie could benefit from an additional scene or two – showing the future king’s progression from an innocent orphan boy to a cruel ruler, or the extent of Maleficent’s power, which is magical in certain instances, but useless in others.

The movie is all over the map.  It doesn’t know whether it wants to be an edgy action adventure like “Snow White and the Huntsman” or a delightful comedy fantasy like “Mirror Mirror.”  It never reaches the right balance like last year’s wondrous “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”  It has an inconsistent tone with disturbing or violent scenes and segments of excessive cutesy-silliness.   The visuals, storybook moor, glistening glades, wall of thorns, colorful creatures and cavernous castle fare much better, even when alternating with darker,  more realistic battle scenes.  A free-flying Maleficent and a still image of her standing among the clouds soar high.

With all the elements of the beloved story there – Maleficent, a fire-breathing dragon, three fairy godmothers, Princess Aurora and Prince Philip – a twist on the cliché “true love’s kiss” is a welcomed one.  While the princess is isolated for her safety and raised in the woods, and eventually meets her prince, the rest, fortunately, diverts from the history of the classic.

“Maleficent” may not be necessarily magnificent, but if you’re a Disney fan, it’s enchanting enough to see on the big screen.

Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter:  She can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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