Maleficent: Review

Not the Fairy Tale You Know
Robert Stromberg | May 30, 2014

The transition from nostalgic classic to modern day retelling is a difficult journey for any property to take. Reimagining an animated world to live action can be disastrous. Look at the fan reception for Transformers, TMNT and pretty much every Auroravideogame movie to see how often Hollywood struggles with rebooting existing animated worlds. Maleficent, unfortunately, follows this trend.

Angelina Jolie stars as the title character, who is the villain of the animated classic Sleeping Beauty. Familiar characters and themes reappear in this Wicked-inspired retelling, but the additional back story is baggage instead of highlighting the character. Disney creates a live action fairy tale with the same black-and-white morality, immature comic relief and fantastical settings that are found in their animated features; but it falls flat with a real world backdrop.

What is a Critical Hit!

This movie tries really hard. It attempts to create characters with motivations, personalities and history but instead settles for caricatures. The special effects can look good in select scenes, but overly produced and shiny in other moments. Jolie does her best to be Maleficent throughout the film and capture her movements from the cartoon, but she remains Angelina Jolie throughout the performance. The magical creatures created can be visually appealing, but they ultimately serve as set pieces and nothing more.

DiavalMaleficent’s companion is the most interesting character throughout the film. He doesn’t have a strong character arc, but he acts as the viewer’s voice in segments and has the most visually interesting scenes.

What is Not Very Effective…

The opening scenes are an exposition dump to bring the viewer up to speed. This is never the sign of a strong story, and is made worse by the fact that it continues for thirty plus minutes. The first third of the film is pure setup and prologue for the true story. Even when the story starts to be flushed out, it mostly falls into the trap of telling viewers what is happening instead of showing.

The comic relief characters don’t add anything to the movie, despite being a large plot point. The comedy is miss-and-miss and doesn’t fit the rest of the tone. In the theater, no one ever laughed; even at the spots where there was a pause for the audience to do so. Plus, these characters suffer greatly from poor CQ segments.

Maleficent is revealed to not be a diabolical villain, but a woman scorned. Instead of taking her hatred out on those who wronged her, she misplaces this on the young princess Aurora. What Pixiesfollows is a mixed bag of emotions as she undermines her own efforts and becomes the “boogey man” in the kingdom; despite never actually hurting anyone.

Within the kingdom, accents are eclectic and constantly changing. The same character will transition from Scottish, to English to American. Names will sound different depending on who is pronouncing them and there is no consistent voice for any character.

Status Summary

Maleficent is able to capture the story beats of a fairy tale, but it loses the charm and magic that comes with the classic Disney stories. This entry transforms Maleficent from a villain to a victim who misplaces her outrage and doesn’t stay true to herself.

If you prefer your fairy tales to have heart then you will want to avoid this film. If you like movies to tell you the plot and showcase over the top emotions, then this is a story worth listening to.


Score: 3.5 /10

+ Fairy Tale Plot Points
– Poor Special Effects
– Unnecessary “Comedy”
– Cast Overacts
– Lots of Exposition

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