The classic tale of Sleeping Beauty is revised in Maleficent, a dark revenge thriller that relies heavily on a steely, captivating performance from Angelina Jolie as the titular villain to earn its wings. A beautiful and inquisitive child, Maleficent (Jolie) leads an idyllic life, until she’s ruthlessly betrayed by the neighbouring humans. Years later, intent on revenge, she curses the king’s newborn child Aurora (Elle Fanning) – an act she soon regrets. With former special effects supervisor Robert Stromberg at its helm, Maleficent is stylised to no return, all sweeping vistas and mysterious moors, but little in terms of substance to uphold it. Linda Woolverton’s script is insufficient to an almost laughable degree, turning a much-loved character into a mere caricature. The film is uneven, too, lurching in all manner of directions – from the cheerfulness of Maleficent’s childhood to her bleak and lonely present – in bewildering fashion. Jolie almost saves it with her possession of the character alone (the only one, in fact, that’s well fleshed out), but Maleficent is far from the thrilling reinterpretation it should be.
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