Maleficent (2014)

Maleficent, according to Disney execs and the cast of this fairytale, gives us the backstory of Sleeping Beauty’s villain and takes us to the heart of what makes her maleficent. While this is partly true, the house of eternal happiness has also taken the opportunity to turn an old Beauty on its head somewhat, and give us a tale unlike anything we’ve known.

Focusing on the titular character, Maleficent takes us on a journey of the Moors and recounts how a once magical land – that was once home to an innocent winged fairy – is threatened by the ambitious King Stefan, ruler of the human kingdom. Wanting to avenge a wrongdoing, Maleficent casts a familiar spell on his baby daughter, Aurora, which causes the King and Maleficent to regret the day the curse was born.

Starring Angelina Jolie as the villainess, this Disney fantasy soars when she’s on screen. In a role made for her, Jolie is spellbinding and shines in almost every scene she’s in. Elle fanning is also well cast as the innocent Sleeping Beauty. She and Jolie have a great chemistry and their scenes are pleasing to watch. Less successful, however, is the pairing of Jolie and Sharlto Copley, who plays the King and the love interest. Superb in District 9, Copley, sadly, is no match for Jolie and it’s oddly evident at first sight.

Altogether the film is a mixed bag, but generally falters – or we are less forgiving – when Jolie’s not on screen. It also appears as though the producers have simply relied on Jolie’s charisma alone to power a movie that is otherwise mediocre and quite incoherent. We’d still recommend it, though, because in addition to possessing a great lead actress, it’s also visually magnificent.