Why Maleficent is Kinda Awesome

“Solid, but not exceptional.”

The day before I went to see Disney's Maleficent, I watched their incredibly popular latest release, Frozen for the first time – not by intent, but just one of those curious coincidences because I sort of felt the same way about that as I do Maleficent: it's a pretty solid film with enjoyable moments, but it's not exceptional.

For those of you that don't know, Maleficent is the live action Disney retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty, but from the point of view of the “villain”; it's an intriguing idea and, if nothing else, it should at least get some praise for that. I do have to say that I felt they didn't mine the potential within that idea as much as I would have liked, but they didn't do a bad job.

There are a number of really enjoyable moments with Jolie's hero/villain

Angelina Jolie stars as the titular “villain”, Maleficent, a fairy from the Moors, a magical neighbouring land to the envious and aggressive humans. She has horns and beautiful wings, and she is a delight to all, a veritable ray of sunshine; one day, as a child, she encounters a human boy thief stealing from a magical pond. The two chat, and a friendship develops between the two that, over the years, blossoms into love – all of this, by the way, is narrated over in a quaint fairy tale story way that I thought was well done. What happens next shows why Maleficent becomes the villain she was made out to be in the traditional story, and it's done in a way that I, personally, didn't expect. I won't say any more for fear of spoilers.

Jolie is quite good as Maleficent, being alluring, childlike, stoic, noble, sinister, spiteful and loving at various points of the film. I felt the Director could have gotten more out of her, and her accent was a little...off...but overall a worthy performance for a number of brilliant moments. Mirroring the overall film, the rest of the cast are solid, without being exceptional; Sharlto Copley, a man who gained a worshipper in me with the likes of District 9 and the A-Team, plays the boy thief grown to a man well, though his forced accent is a little off as well. Elle Fanning (Aurora/Sleeping Beauty), Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple (The Three Fairies, Flittle, Knotgrass and Thistletwit), Sam Reilly (Maleficent's familiar, Diaval) and Brenton Thwaites (Prince Phillip) are all, again, solid but not exceptional in their supporting roles.

Is he supposed to be Irish? Scottish? What? Bah, at least we get some crazy Sharlto

The special effects are generally very good, and the real fairy tale artistic style is a boon; whether it be the magical land of the Moors, Maleficent's prosthetics or the classical giant wall of thorns, it all keeps the story feeling like a real fairy tale – as well as giving copious nods to the traditional telling.

Unfortunately, I'm starting to run out of things to say about the film, which is, surprise surprise, a reflection on the film itself – say it with me now folks: solid, but not exceptional. It's probably worth a watch and works well for a date or family night at the cinema.

Final Score: 6/10

This has been Blacksmith, writing for The Awesome Update.

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