"Everyone knows The Undertaker and WWE modeled that guy's outfit after mine – but I wear it so much better!" Angelina Jolie makes her presence known as the title character in Disney's new interpretation of the "real" story of Sleeping BeautyMALEFICENT. Credit: Frank Connor © 2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville,  Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Michael Higgins, Isobelle Molloy and Hannah New

WRITER(S): Linda Woolverton (written by); Charles Perrault (based from the story "La belle au bois dormant" by); Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm (based from the story "Little Briar Rose" by); Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright and Milt Banta (based from the motion picture Sleeping Beauty by)

DIRECTOR(S): Robert Stromberg


60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): The latest re-envisioning of a well-known story, Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie as the title character, an orphan fairy blessed with a powerful set of wings living in the land of the Moors. A land full of magical creatures, the Moors have been at war with the humans for a long time. (Or should that be vice-versa?) Despite the ongoing struggle, young Maleficent (portrayed by Isobelle Molloy) ends up forging a friendship with Stefan (portrayed as a youth by Michael Higgins), a human who is the son of the reigning king.

Then both Aurora and Stefan (played as an adult by Sharlto Copley) grow up ... And an incident takes place that changes their lives forever.

Now king himself, Stefan is enjoying his life with his new queen (Hannah New) and their baby daughter Aurora ... Until Maleficent uses her "pretty bird" (Sam Riley) to find out about the baby's christening so she can issue a curse. (If you know the story of Sleeping Beauty, you likely know what it is.)

In hopes of protecting Aurora, Stefan sends her off with three other good-hearted fairies – Flittle (Lesley Manville) the young and bubbly Thistlewit (Juno Temple) and and their de facto leader Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton) – who whisk her away to a safe house in the land of the Moors. But as Aurora grows, she begins to feel a presence watching over. But what she doesn't know is the true nature of the woman she views as her fairy godmother and what she is trying to do ...

Maybe there's more to this story than it seems ... Or at least Disney hopes you think so!

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: Angelina Jolie fans, anyone who ever wanted to be a princess or a fairy godmother, young girls (or those young at heart) who love a certain type of ending

WHO WON'T – OR SHOULDN'T – LIKE THIS FILM?: People who hate re-envisionings/remakes, people who don't like slapstick humor, people who don't like fairy tales, those who find anything but exceptional children's tales uninteresting

BOTTOM LINE – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? Thanks to a powerful performance by Jolie, Maleficent is watchable ... But nowhere near as satisfying as it could have – or should have – been.

WHAT'S GOOD (OR BAD) ABOUT IT? The main if not only reason to watch Maleficent is to watch just how fantastic Jolie is as the title character. In fact, the problem with Jolie's performance being so good is that it shines a light on just how ... Well ... Not great the majority of the rest of the cast's performances are as a whole. While Copley sneers and snarls his under-developed character to drive home the point as the film's true villain, Manville, Staunton and Temple are the fairy equivalent of The Three Stooges ... And not in a good way.(Fortunately, Riley proves himself as a good sidekick to Jolie's character so that all is not lost on the acting front.)

The film's final 30 minutes provide a decent climax and wrap up, but as mentioned before, the film's story as a whole feels underdeveloped and essentially puts the ENTIRE weight of its quality on Jolie's shoulders. Not only is that too much for even Jolie to pull off essentially by herself, it essentially devalues the entire story/cinematic history of Sleeping Beauty for the sake of trying to add to a story that didn't need changing.

And despite what some politicians might have you believe, change isn't always a good thing. Just ask anyone who remembers New Coke. But in the case of old Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent just proves Jolie is a great actress, even if she is mired in mediocre material and cast mates' performances. 



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