Maleficent

  • MaleficentWhile not terrible, Maleficent might have been better than it is.
  • To begin, it is over-reliant on voice-over, especially early, a fact that means it frequently tells instead of shows.
  • Next, given that the film considers people’s moral complexity, director Robert Stromberg and writer Linda Woolverton’s under-development of Stefan (Sharlto Copley) is problematic.
  • So is Copley’s performance. Much as in Elysium (2013), the actor’s over-the-top movements, facial expressions and vocal inflections render the character a caricature, not an interesting person.
  • Aurora (Elle Fanning, a tremendous actor wasted in this role) is as under-developed as Stefan. Here the character smiles a lot but does little else, facts that make it hard to understand why everyone loves her so. Then, when Aurora finally learns Maleficent cursed her long ago, she responds appropriately, only to suddenly, almost without provocation, reverse course. Why?
  • While many of the picture’s effects are visually impressive, they are too emphasized and thereby overshadow the story, such as it is.
  • Yet, Maleficent does not crumple, partially because Disney, following a trend they started in Frozen (2013), continues redefining true love.
  • But mostly because Angelina Jolie (the titular character) doesn’t letย the projectfail. Early, during the first battle sequence, she makes us feel her character’s anger disguised as determination. Later, after Maleficent has been betrayed in one of the worst imaginable ways, Jolie makes us feel genuine grief.
  • The trend continues. At every turn, Jolie makes this moviewatchable.
  • Too bad the rest ofย Maleficent does not equal its star’s quality.
  • Final Grade: D
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12 thoughts on “Maleficent

    • Really? I haven’t read any of the blog reviews yet, but Rotten Tomatoes has it slotted just rotten, at 59% approval. I figured I was just contributing to the consensus.

      Oh and Fanning is fine; she doesn’t do anything poorly, not in the least. I’ve just seen her be astonishing in Ginger and Rosa (one of the best screen performances I have ever seen. Ever), and so I know how much the filmmakers wasted her talent.

  1. I don’t agree with you about one thing but it has nothing to do with this movie. I loved Copley in Elysium! His character may have been cartoony but I had such a great time with the rivalry between him and Damon!

    As for this….yeah, it was super flawed. However, everyone left the movie theater happy and gave a clapping ovation. The target demographic are not complaining as much as we critics are haha!

    • We’ll just have to accept disagreement on Elysium. I don’t like much about that movie, and Copley certainly doesn’t register as one of its merits, not for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And Maleficent IS still entertaining (the D grade is where my scale is trickiest). Jolie ensures that – it’s just that it makes so many missteps as to be more flawed than quality. I will also say that this is only at 75% audience approval on Rotten Tomatoes. Not like that’s a screaming success, either (though you’re right it’s much better than the critics’ score).

    • Copley’s performances in the two are pretty similar (though the characters are somewhat different). I certainly didn’t like either movie.

      Though roughly half of the audience enjoys Maleficent more than me.

  2. Good stuff Josh, not a movie I was planning on seeing to begin with but you’ve just added to the pile of reviews that don’t have glowing things to say about it. Although, you do emphasize the fact that Jolie is really quite good in it. I just don’t think that will be enough to sway me to even rent this one, however. Not a huge Jolie fan over here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m not a big Jolie fan either, but she’s good enough to overcome my biases.

      The rest of the movie? Not really. (Though it is worth noting this has about an even 50/50 split. Half the audience seems to like it. Half responds the way I did. Not that that means I’d recommend you’d see it, of course.)

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