Directed by Robert Stromberg
It’s an old story told anew. But in the same vein as other live-action Disney sequels like 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” and 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Maleficent” fails to live up to the classic original. Still, the big-budget children’s movie has fantastical escapist entertainment to spare.
When a fairy named Maleficent (Angelina Jolie for most of the film) was younger, she fell in love with a young human prince, Stefan (Sharlto Copley). But when he was corrupted by power and eventually declared war on the fantastical land where Maleficent lived, she put a curse on his baby daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning). But something in her feels that she needs to look over the young girl, even while the now-king Stefan wages war against her land.
Fanning, the impressive young star of 2011’s “Super 8,” takes a notable step back playing the sleeping beauty Aurora. She spends much of her screen time fangirling Maleficent and laughing for no good reason. Her young prince (Brenton Thwaites in a small role) looks like he could be the sixth member of One Direction. Thankfully, though it’s far from a career topper, Angelina Jolie gives her mighty all to a movie that hardly deserves it (if I’m being honest). Keeping it PG, Jolie has some fun…villains need not always be grim. And Imelda Staunton, known by most as Hogwarts professor Dolores Umbridge (a role in which I always thought she was deserving of major award consideration), shows a really funny side in a minor role as one of Aurora’s fairy godmothers.
Though the epic final struggle never really reaches what I would call epic, the end credits totally make up for it. That’s because Lana del Ray’s eerie rendition of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” tune “Once Upon a Dream” makes its anticipated appearance. Goosebump-worthy. Wow.
Disney hasn’t quite figured out how to make live-action fairy tales translate the way they have with animation. But for fans of the fairy tale genre, “Maleficent” could be a dream come true.