MaleficentTitle: Maleficent (2014)
Director: Robert Stromberg
Runtime: 97 minutes

With the first glimpse of Angelina Jolie in the role of the iconic villain, Maleficent, I knew we were going to be in for a treat. Then more trailers were released, and my expectations quickly started turning south. At no point did the trailers give off an appropriate vibe for what we really get with the final product, though. With a heavy heart, I have to say that this Disney fan has been left devastated after viewing the travesty of a film that is Maleficent.

First things first: if you enjoyed Snow White and The Huntsman, then by all means, run out and see Maleficent because it’s made for you. If you’re going in expecting to see how Maleficent became the evil woman she did, though, then you have another thing coming.

The film opens with a very young Maleficent flying around her poorly rendered CGI world that’s filled with lovely and colorful creatures who look a million times better than the poor backdrops. She gets called away because a human has entered the forest. See, Maleficent is a fairy that just happens to have large, vulture-like wings and horns. The human is a young boy, and they befriend each other. The movie then jumps to age 16, and they are foolishly in love. He leaves her behind to pursue a life in the human world, and joins the King’s army. The King finds out about Maleficent’s powers, so he takes his army into the forest to attack her. She wounds him, and on his deathbed he swears that whoever kills Maleficent will become the next King.

The former best friend/lover has big ambitions, so he puts together a little cocktail, drugs kind-hearted Maleficent, and steals her most prized possession. She awakens, sobbing in terror as her special item has been taken from her. We get a painstakingly bad performance out of Jolie at this point, and then she turns crazy and evil, and the film shifts into its Sleeping Beauty storyline. Know that I’ve ruined nothing for a potential viewer because this is all in the first fifteen minutes of the film. It’s not appropriate for the intended audience, and, frankly, is when I started becoming disgusted with Maleficent’s agenda.

From this point on, Maleficent does everything it can to destroy the original story. Oh, sorry, “re-tell it correctly”. Everything you know, besides the wording of the curse, has been butchered for the sake of this revenge flick, which isn’t a revenge flick at all. Basically, the three fairies are terrible foster parents for young Aurora, so Maleficent becomes her godmother and raises her until her 16th birthday. You can surely figure the rest out, and the “twists” are so predictable that I wanted to rip my eyes out.

Angelina Jolie gives a fantastic performance as Maleficent, when she isn’t playing nice for the kiddies. It’s almost an injustice that she’s wasted so much here. I love Elle Fanning, who blew me away in Super 8, and while she’s perfectly fine as Aurora, she’s under used as she only has one solid scene. Everyone else gives lackluster, going-through-the-motions performances.

I saw Maleficent in 2D after early reviews came out saying the CGI was bad. At first glance, I thought the reviewers must have been on something, and then I realized that while the creatures of the forest look fantastic and fun, the world itself looks like garbage. There are also a few special effects scenes, mainly the flying bricks, which look like they are straight out of a SyFy channel original film. I’m grateful I didn’t drop $18 to see this on an IMAX screen.

It pains me to hate Maleficent in the manner that I do. So much could have been done with the source material, and to try and turn this into Sleeping Beauty’sanswer to Wicked was a terrible idea. There is just so much wasted talent on this poorly written script. I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that Linda Woolverton, the writer of The Lion King and Beauty & The Beast, wrote this script! But then again, she also wrote Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which wasn’t terrible, but was far from perfect. Thankfully Maleficent ends on a high note, and I don’t mean the poor, CGI-ridden finale, but rather the wonderfully haunting “Once Upon a Dream” by Lana Del Ray that plays over the credits. As a Disney fan, I’m completely let down by Maleficent, and as a Maleficent fan, my heart has been ripped out and stomped on.

one_star

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.