Hello there people of the internet, time for another film review and today's review comes in the shape of Maleficent. Now this was a film I had initially had no intention of watching because of a lack of interest, but since I love the Maleficent character from the Disney films and Kingdom Hearts video games, I decided to see how this film turned out especially given its lengthy time in production. So how does the final product fare? Well read on and find out.
Here's the synopsis for the film:
"A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land's fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal - an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces a battle with the invading king's successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom - and perhaps to Maleficent's true happiness as well."
The story is decent and has genuine moments of interest, drama and humour, but it comes across as a bit messy. The film has a whimsical Disney-like feel, but then switches to something partly reminiscent of Lord of the Rings and then switches to something like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. It's tonally all over the place and lacks consistency. The main pull of the story is the focus on Maleficent's backstory, however when things shift towards Aurora things are a lot less interesting and the way the film concludes feels very lackluster. Now I know the general gist of the Sleeping Beauty story and I know that with film adaptations these days things need to change, however this version of the story is very unsatisfying.
As for the cast they are good, but one clearly stands out more so than the rest. Angelina Jolie as Maleficent is very good and commands the screen whenever she is around, her performance is clearly one she gives with gusto, feeling and fun. This version of Maleficent, like a lot of modern interpretations of classic villains, is portrayed as the good-guy-gone-bad type of villain where even at her worst there's still goodness in her heart and while that angle works for some other characters, for the classic villain like this one I don't like it. Make no mistake Jolie is great and is the best thing about this cast, however seeing a soft side to someone like Maleficent just doesn't sit well with me.
Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora is fine, she smiles a lot and is very free-spirited, but is a bit bland and boring for me. Sharlto Copley as King Stefan is good, however compared to some of the other films I've seen him in this role comes across as a bit dull and lacking the charm and charisma. Sam Riley was nice and funny but underutilized as Diaval. Brenton Thwaites is just pointless and dull as Phillip and Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville as Knotgrass, Thistlewit and Flittle (the three a pixies) were charismatic, but ultimately annoying as hell.
When it comes to the presentation it is pretty good for the most part, if somewhat unnecessary. The visual effects are colourful, detailed and the attention to detail on Maleficent powers and some of tree creatures are cool. That being said a lot of the CGI don't really add much to the film, all the sweeping landscapes, weird and various creatures and action scenes felt like it window-dressing and material just to distract audience members. The soundtrack by James Newton Howard is okay, however it is ultimately dull and insignificant and that's a darn shame considering the fact that I like a lot of this composers previous work.
In conclusion Maleficent is a decent film and a lot better than I expected. However the film survives purely on Angelina Jolie's performance, otherwise the story, other cast members and visual effects do little to elevate the film above being purely average. The film isn't a total loss and it was partly engaging but in the end it joins the list of other classic fairy tale adaptations that didn't need to be done.
So what did you think of Maleficent? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to leave them below and I'll see ya on the next review, laters! :D