Maleficent Screen 10 articles

Maleficent

2014

Maleficent Poster
  • Maleficent is one of the strangest films in the Disney canon, both garish and grotesque in its flippantly commercial use of deformed creatures, assaulted women, and a Lana Del Rey cover of "Once Upon a Dream." ...The entirely of Maleficent, when not on Jolie, is indeed the slog of a familiar, contemporary sort, with dragons and another fight sequence as the film's denouement.

  • Fanning admittedly doesn't have much to do here, but all that's required is that she embody uncomplicated purity of heart, and there's no more guileless actor currently working. Placing her opposite someone who comes across as inhuman was inspired, and Jolie rises to the occasion with a magnificently stylized, ferocious performance that burrows into the darkest recesses of classic fairy tales—impressive, given that Maleficent was almost entirely invented by Disney.

  • The original movie's stark sense of good and evil is replaced here by a more nuanced, relativist perspective, which effectively prohibits the sort of nightmarish visions that made Walt Disney's early animation features so powerful. This looks impressive, though, making use of highly imaginative, state-of-the-art 3-D effects while still evoking old-school Disney animation (even the wide-screen compositions seem to be modeled on those of the original).

  • In undercutting and reversing her villainy, Stromberg and screenwriter Linda Woolverton (who wrote both the wonderful Lion King and the ghastly Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, by the way) do find an intriguing new way into the story. But they’re a bit too enamored of their revisionism, and they don’t quite know what to do with the rest of the tale.

  • The role isn't exactly demanding (though Jolie knows just the fab, dragon-lady key in which to play it), but the aesthetic might of the actress in character is so grand that Stromberg's wont to muddy the film with Candyland-ish excess feels like an insult to her.

  • Maleficent never feels of-a-piece; it’s a collection of interesting directions, run through a post-Renaissance Disney filter. It sets out to humanize one of the studio’s most iconic villains, and in the process, creates a new one-dimensional villain in the form of King Stefan.

  • A lot of thought has gone into the gauzy feel of this universe (the film is directed, for good and ill, by Robert Stromberg, an Oscar-winning production designer). Twisting, thorny woods, magical sunbeams, fluffy stuff floating in the air—it’s pretty much the fantasy Ridley Scott wanted to make with his 1985 stinker, Legend.

  • There are moments in "Maleficent" that are profoundly disturbing, in the way that ancients myths and Grimm fairy tales are disturbing. They strike to the heart of human experience and create the kinds of memories that young children—young girls particularly—will obsess over, because on some level they'll know, even without the benefit of adult experience, that the film is telling them a horrible sort of truth.

  • Mr. Stromberg, a production designer making his feature directing debut, does best when he scales down, as in the lovely shots of Maleficent walking next to a floating, unconscious Aurora, an image that telegraphs more about their relationship than any line of dialogue. The action scenes, by contrast, are visually uninteresting, borderline generic and unnecessary.

  • Surpassing even George Lucas' gluttonous appetite for extraneous background (distr)action, director Robert Stromberg's more-is-more approach achieves a default aesthetic register as overstuffed as it is focally indecisive. If Michael Bay fucks the frame, Stromberg sends out open invites to a CGI gangbang lurid enough to make Annabel Chong wince.

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