Film review: Maleficent (7 out of 10)

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
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This latest take on the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty has certainly had more than its fair share of critics.

People have been up in arms, saying it’s too cute, the main character isn’t ‘dark’ enough and how dare Walt Disney Pictures put such a spin on a old favourite tale.

However, I have to say I rather liked it.

I didn’t watch it with any expectations but was pleasantly surprised.

It’s true, this version picks apart the original story (certainly the one shown in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty) and gives a totally different slant.

But I thought it worked well and it all seemed to make sense.

The film starts with the young fairy Maleficent darting round her magical kingdom which is full of weird and wonderful characters.

However, in the neighbouring kingdom are humans, led by a monarch eager to extend his rule as far as possible.

Maleficent meets one young human lad, Stefan, who seems pleasant enough but changes for the worse as he grows older.

Betrayed, Maleficent wreaks vengeance on Stefan which leads to Princess Aurora having the spinning wheel curse put on her.

Angelina Jolie as the grown-up Maleficent is excellent and holds the movie together, while Sharlto Copley’s portrayal of Stefan is sound enough.

It’s true that Elle Fanning as Aurora is a bit too smiley and saccharine sweet, but it certainly doesn’t ruin the film.

Sam Riley as Maleficent’s shape-changing ally Diaval is great and even the three rather bonkers fairies (played by Imedla Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple) aren’t too extreme.

There’s even a role for Angelina Jolie’s own daughter as a young Aurora, though despite Jolie’s acting ability she naturally struggles a bit to act horrified as the child stares up at her.

The direction is pretty slick and there’s good action scenes.

So, while some people are dismayed by this movie, I reckon it’s one of the better Disney films in recent years.

Film details: Maleficent (PG) 97mins

Director: Robert Stromberg

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley