Note: no spoilers
If ever a movie was uneven, it’s Maleficent. As I reached the final scenes, I felt the movie was, in this order, bad, good, bad, great, bad, meh. The story is certainly an interesting one. And I’m not sure if the CGI was the issue, or that I was expecting some Sleeping Beauty consistency in the story line. But it’s as if the writers had some very basic and sparse plot points from the original story and and decided to use them for completely different purposes.
Angelina Jolie is of course a fantastic actress. I believe she had some additional sunkeness and pointiness added to her cheeks, but not much! And the way she acts with her spellbinding eyes is magnificent. So overall she added to the movie.
In a supporting role, Sam Riley as the Diaval crow is just right. And as Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Elle Fanning (younger sister of Dakota) does a reasonably good job.
Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple play the three fairies (Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistlewit) charged with taking care of Aurora for 16 years plus one day. Their interactions are meant to be funny and cute, as they bicker and slap each other around like a lame three stooges imitation, but it comes off as somewhat contrived.
The movie is just uneven. It gets going in a certain direction and then veers to something else that seems purposely unusual or even trite. It starts to become somewhat dark (towards the middle, where it was “great”) and then it seems to realize that it needs to wrap things up and so quickly resolves a few key problems with the story. But it keeps trying to weave in parts of Sleeping Beaty even when it seems forced. It brings us around to “Love’s First Kiss” to awaken Sleeping Beauty and even then takes an odd (though heartfelt) turn. And like the original story, you wonder why the kingdom kept the broken spinning wheels in the cellar. Why not just burn them? Finally, it even ends with a spooky version of “Once Upon a Dream”.
The moral of the story appears to be pretty obvious, and is completely different than the original Disney animated film.
Finally, CGI , to me, is really getting annoying. I realize some of the characters live in an enchanted area but there’s no enchantment for me with clearly (poorly) animated CGI creatures. Some are good, but others appear to be cartoonish or too cutesy. This movie is violent enough that they can’t be aiming to appease little children, so I’m not sure the point.
The Monkey can only give it a weak recommendation. From one to ten bananas, the monkey flings Maleficent five bananas. Check it out on video.