Saturday, 31 May 2014


Evil Angie

Despite an intriguing performance from Angelina Jolie in the title role, Disney’s live-action spectacular is not to my personal tastes. However that is not to say it won’t please you, dear reader. The tone was too twee for my uniquely sour outlook.

Certainly, if I was thinking of a way to update the old fairytales –with particularly lucrative merchandising possibilities – I would not have decided to retell Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective.

In a world of magical creatures, Maleficent (Jolie) is the most powerful fairy, protecting her home from evil and cantankerous humans. As a child she falls in love with a peasant boy named Stefan who grows up to become a ruthless miscreant (Sharlto Copley). With the passing of time, the besotted pair grow ever distant until Stefan’s final act of betrayal destroys the fairy’s sense of good. A curse is placed on the wrongdoer’s offspring, condemning the baby to a mortal slumber on its sixteenth birthday.

If you think that synopsis sounds too much like an overlong and dull prologue you would be entirely correct. In fact, the whole film is one big build up to nothing. It is only until the last twenty minutes that the juicy pieces of action really begin to deliver. Before then, the main amusement is Copley’s needlessly embarrassing Irish accent and some very graceful scenery.

Cinematography of this quality is wasted on a story so loyally committed to entertaining children. Grand panoramic vistas, in a potent blend of computerised and natural imagery, burst into life throughout the imagined fantasy kingdom. At times the direction verges on a poor Lord of the Rings imitation but at least one scene does tread on new ground.

The climactic fight sequence, located in a castle’s spacious lobby, sees a wall of fire consume the actors while Maleficent burns with the fury of a scorned woman. The heated action left me dazzled. For half a second the same glimmer shines in Copley’s eyes as when he portrayed the eerily bloodthirsty antagonist of Elysium.

Aside from the pretty pictures, Jolie’s career-resuscitating success as the ‘misunderstood’ baddie raises the production above its rather clumsy script. Mischievous, vengeful, caring: Jolie shows her full palette of feelings for her biggest impact on screen since Clint Eastwood’s Changeling.

In her previous works I have often found ‘Angie’ somewhat miscast as the action hero or love interest. But alongside the traditional femme fatale character, the stern matriarch is a mould which suits her profile in a more believable way. Unfortunately, the tame script never really allows for a proper test of her newfound vicious streak.

No doubt children and the odd Disney-renaissance fanboy/girl will thoroughly enjoy Maleficent. For my own preferences though, I cannot appreciate the attraction. Frankly, it is far too sweet for my taste buds.  


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