'Maleficent' is far from magnificent

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Movie review

By Becca Owsley

Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.
Release date: May 30
Runtime: 97 minutes
Rating: Not an improvement on the original


If you grew up loving the Disney fairy tale movie “Sleeping Beauty,” you know its villain Maleficent always has been considered one of the best animated villains in movie history.

For fans, anticipation is high for the live action Disney flick “Maleficent.”

Sadly, the film falls short of the original and doesn’t live up to the magic promised by the film’s promoters.

The performance of Angelina Jolie is a bright spot. She literally becomes the character of Maleficent. From her look to her voice, it is as if the animated character stepped into a real life story.

A fun fact in the film: Jolie and Brad Pitt’s real-life daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, plays one of the younger versions of Princess Aurora. If you play close enough attention, you can immediately notice the resemblance of the blond haired little girl and her famous father.

But not even the great performance of Jolie or the cuteness of her daughter could save the mess the story created in this film.

As Disney attempts to fashion a new version of the classic tale for its famous villain, the studio accepted a very weak story. With this film, it needs to be similar enough to the original for fans to make a nostalgic connection but different enough to be its own film. It did neither.

You can point to the Broadway show “Wicked” as an example of a production that did this well. The new background story of the good witch and the wicked witch flowed nicely into the existing story in a way that the changes weaved into the original story to create something fans truly enjoyed.

The story created for “Maleficent” does not have the same success. It is a stretch that doesn’t just take a different look at the original but changes it entirely. Audiences may not take that leap with the film.

The only time films succeed in that sort of change is when it is an improvement on the original. This film is not.

One of the biggest flaws in storytelling is an attempt to recreate a theme similar to “Frozen.” It worked well in “Frozen” film but seems awkward in “Maleficent.”

Elle Fanning (“Super 8”), Sharlto Copley (“Elysium”), Lesley Manville (“An Adventure in Space and Time”), “Imelda Staunton (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”), Juno Temple (“Lovelace”) and Sam Riley (“On the Road”) also star in the film.

The film’s computer animated characters also add no depth to the film in creating the fantasy world in which it is set.

This combined with a flawed and uninspiring story make “Maleficent” a disappointment at the box office this summer.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com. For movie reviews visit her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861.


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