At The Movies: Maleficent

Disney’s latest fairy tale is an odd yet entertaining concoction with ingredients borrowed heavily from “Wicked,” “The Lord of the Rings” films and the studio’s most recent big hit — “Frozen.”

“Maleficent” is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fable in the same way “Wicked” reworks “The Wizard of Oz” — by turning the story’s villain into a misunderstood heroine.

Maleficent-2014-Movie-PosterIn this version of the tale, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a one-of-a-kind oversized winged fairy who serves as guardian of the moors — a magical place filled with rock trolls, tree spirits and all manner of fanciful creatures and probably a Hobbit or two who relocated from the shire.

A few miles down the road is the kingdom of men. Men — in particular the king — covet the riches that must reside in the moors but cannot overpower Maleficent or her servants.

In her youth, Mal has an encounter with a human boy named Stefan who has foolishly ventured into her territory. The two strike up a friendship that grows into something more over time.

But Stefan’s greed proves more powerful than his love, for when the dying king offers his crown to whoever vanquishes Maleficent, Stefan betrays his former friend. Maleficent responds by plotting revenge on now King Stefan (Sharlto Copley) through his daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning).

She places a curse on the infant scheduled to take effect on her 16th birthday. The king sends the child away to be raised in the woods for no apparent reason. As the years go by Stefan delves deeper into paranoia and madness while Maleficent becomes maternal to the growing Aurora.

“Maleficent” features lovely scenery and intriguing creature/set designs, the special effects are first-rate and Angelina Jolie gives a memorable performance in the title role.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t rise up to the creativity of the effects. Everything plays out in familiar fashion, all the way down to the villain falling to his death after a sneak attack on the heroine who just showed him mercy. Can we please give that a rest?

The story’s one twist — a play on “true love’s kiss” — would’ve had more impact had it not already been done just a few months ago in “Frozen.”

The 3D is fine but not necessary. I didn’t sit through the end to see if there was a post-credits scene.

 

 

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