Maleficent | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Maleficent 

Maleficent doesn't bother with "character" or "story" nonsense

Pin It
Favorite
Maleficent
  • Maleficent

Beware, children, when attempting to rehabilitate a cartoon villain, or update a fairy tale or beloved classic fantasy story, for you tread on treacherous ground, and a successful completion of your quest is far from certain.

As a warning to you all, behold Maleficent, the supposed “real story” behind Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and the lesson not learned from Disney’s previous similar live-action outings, Oz the Great & Powerful and Alice in Wonderland. Unless the lesson is, “Throw enough theme-park spectacle at audiences and you don’t need to bother with any of that ‘character’ or ‘story’ nonsense, and spin it in 3-D so you can tack a premium on the ticket price.” Like Alice and Oz, Maleficent—the first feature from visual-effects-artist-turned-director Robert Stromberg—seems primarily concerned with being its own pop-up coffee-table book of production design than anything approaching satisfying fantasy drama.

Its cartoonishly lazy simplicity is supposed to be excusable, I presume, because this is “for kids,” but I suspect even the kids will notice the muddled world-building about a vague ancient hatred between humans and fairies and the confused motives—on both sides—that follow. Why is human Stefan (Sharlto Copley) so horrifically awful to his fairy friend Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) after being so kind to her? If the fairies don’t need a leader, why don’t they object when Maleficent sets herself up as their queen? Why do three “nice” fairies (Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple) turn their backs on their homeland in order to raise human Aurora (Elle Fanning) as a favor to the cruel Stefan? How come, if Maleficent casts a nasty revenge spell on the baby but later casts another spell to revoke it, it doesn’t stay revoked?

None of it makes any sense, not even on its own small terms, and … oooh, look! A dragon!

MALEFICENT

1_5_stars.gif

Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning
Rated PG

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of , ,

More by MaryAnn Johanson

  • Drew Crime

    A Simple Favor offers the simple pleasures of a cozy mystery.
    • Sep 12, 2018
  • Easy Reader

    Convincing bibliophilia makes up for a lack of conflict in The Bookshop.
    • Aug 29, 2018
  • Of Monsters and Men

    A woman's point of view gives unique spark to the dark romance of Beast.
    • May 30, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Drew Crime

    A Simple Favor offers the simple pleasures of a cozy mystery.
    • Sep 12, 2018
  • The Not-So-Broken Road to Acting

    Utah native Lindsay Pulsipher on the journey from Touched by an Angel to playing a war widow.
    • Sep 5, 2018
  • Easy Reader

    Convincing bibliophilia makes up for a lack of conflict in The Bookshop.
    • Aug 29, 2018
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Kid Stuff

    A lovely child performance anchors the satisfying family drama of Gifted.
    • Apr 12, 2017
  • If You're Going to San Francisco

    Fifty years on, Monterey Pop captures something that was more than a musical moment.
    • Jun 14, 2017

© 2018 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation