‘Maleficent’ Might Just Cast a Sleeping Spell on its Audience
Shamefully, I know more about Disney movies/character than most other 35-year-old childless men.
However, one character that has flown under my radar – despite being told about her multiple times by a former coworker that has a tattoo of her – is Maleficent.
I knew Maleficent was evil and that she had beef with one of the Disney princesses, although, I couldn’t have told you which one it was. Turns out, it was Aurora – a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty.
But as we find out in Disney’s new (kinda) live-action reimagining “Maleficent” the titular character might not have been as evil as we’ve always been led to believe.
Disney's “Maleficent” starring Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. (Photo credit: Film Still. ©Disney 2014)
This time around Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is betrayed by ex-boyfriend Stefan (Sharlito Copley), whose desire for power outweighs his love for her. It is that betrayal that forces Maleficent – looking more and more like Skeletor from “He-Man” – to cast a spell on Aurora, the infant daughter of now-King Stefan.
Stefan sends Aurora off with a gaggle of pixies to live away from him, the kingdom and spinning wheels until her 16th birthday has passed and rendered the spell useless.
But like so many real-life orphans have failed to do with Jolie, Aurora cannot hide from the powerful Maleficent, who tracks her down and watches her grow into a young woman (Elle Fanning) that grows on her as the years pass.
If I were only allowed to use two words to describe “Maleficent” they would be “visually stunning.” At times the CGI is incredible, creating equally bright and dark versions of Maleficent’s Moors and its inhabitants. Unfortunately, at others the CGI becomes less of a delivery tool and the entire story.
If I were given two more words to describe it they would be “painfully long.”
Despite being only 97 minutes long, “Maleficent” has a very brisk first act but then suffers from painfully slow second and third acts.
That first act is very strong and the story keeps you engaged, even looking forward to more. Unfortunately, after that first third it slows to a snail’s pace and just never recovers.
It got so slow, in fact, that I kept checking my fingers to see if somewhere along the line I ran into one of those magic spinning thingies and was about to fall into a deep forever sleep.
Jolie, who is generally very good and was pretty obviously created to play this character, is never really given a chance to shine and the rest of the cast is forgettable at best. It’s hard to connect with any of them on any level – for better, worse or indifference.
The best part of the movie is the CGI, but after a while even that suffers from the slow-moving story.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say “Maleficent” is bad or even that I disliked it. What I will say is that after showing early promise it just kind of stops and occupies screen space for what seems like an eternity.
★★ ½ of ★★★★★