Movie Review: Maleficent

MaleficentAn absentee wealthy father, three spinster sisters hawking wish fulfillment and blather, a conflicted surrogate aunt with mixed feelings about a visiting teenager and a 16-year-old with a strong attraction to a needle somehow manage to create a fairly inert melodrama in Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent (C), a revisionist Sleeping Beauty told through the perspective of Angelina Jolie’s fabulous costumes. As the object of audience ambivalence, Jolie does strike a mighty mean pose and has some deliciously nasty lines from time to time. She was most surprising when her sensitive side shines through opposite Elle Fanning as about-to-be-a-cutter Aurora. The effects and characters of the enchanted forest are truly laughable: some look like second unit rejects from the Captain EO creature shop; and even though the running time is brisk, the lopsided narrative withholds most of the intrigue for most of the film’s duration. For reclaiming a villain from history, it’s no Wicked. But in saving Jolie’s virtually hit-free career from continued box office poison, she may have just earned her wings.