I had no real interest in this movie, let me just be honest. I went in with zero expectations, I don’t remember anything about Sleeping Beauty, and I really have no feelings about Angelina Jolie.
So with that said… Did this movie turn out okay?
This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a twist to showcase what might’ve been the evil queen Maleficent’s side of the story. We meet Maleficent when she’s a young girl and she lives among fairies and treefolk and all sorts of magical creatures. However, the neighboring human town fears these creatures. A young boy wanders into this magical place and befriends (and romances) young Maleficent, but things don’t stay happy for long.
Angelina Jolie as the title character is probably the best thing about this movie, as she delivers a very nuanced performance, as a young and hopeful Maleficent turns into a jaded and seemingly evil villain. It can be a tad towards the dramatic, which doesn’t always mesh with the other talent, but she does a usually great job.
Another standout is Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium) as the king of the nearby city. A paranoia slowly sets over this character through the movie, as he fears the return and retribution of Maleficent.
I also appreciated the world building in place here, as there are some really unique and visually interesting creature designs here, though the visual effects that bring them to life can sometimes falter.
What doesn’t work?
Let’s talk visuals first, as this is a very colorful movie. While the creatures look cool, they don’t look real when standing next to Angelina Jolie. There are three fairies that help to raise the young Aurora and these ladies especially look horrible, with their little real heads put onto ridiculous looking fairy bodies.
And while Jolie and Copley have this great dynamic, our other love pairing between Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Prince Phillip (Brenton Thwaites) is a little less so. Aurora is so positive and loving of everything in her world that she is actually really uninteresting. And Phillip basically shows up with a Jonas brother-style hairdo and just smiles and now he’s somehow the perfect guy. I guess when Aurora has been surrounded by talking trees, he has an advantage.
The pacing of this movie is also kind of strange. We spend a big chunk of time in the middle of the movie where there is zero conflict. Maleficent basically just stalks Aurora (who is uninteresting) and we just watch this awkward stalking for awhile.
There’s not a lot wrong with this movie, in a way that’s a blatant deterrent to seeing it. But this movie is just kind of forgettable. Jolie does her best but the slow pacing doesn’t give her a lot to do. Also the tone of the movie was confusing, as some parts blatantly pandered to children, but then there were some really dark and potentially disturbing moments. Overall, it was average. I don’t regret seeing it but I’ll never watch it again.