Angelina Jolie is marvelous as malevolent “Maleficent”; a refreshing spin on the fiendish fairy in the ageless tale of “Sleeping Beauty”; like the play “Wicked” (“Elphaba” the Wicked Witch from the “Wizard of Oz”) it forces audiences to cast aside preconceived ideas of good and evil; concentrate on the cause of their transformation from the best to the bitter. The film is Jolie’s; her first in four years; digitally altered cheekbones only enhance her dazzling countenance; exquisite transitions from innocence, love, betrayal to blatant cruelty, as a woman scorned, she is hellishly fearsome, but not heartless.
Ironically “good King Stephan” (weirdly, wonderful Sharlto Copley) is in reality a feckless cad, more worthy of Maleficent’s curse than the innocent “Aurora”.
Aurora enchantingly portrayed by Elle Fanning is the catalyst shattering Maleficent’s resolve; their relationship anchors the film; Aurora is “dawn”, awakening to the wonders of the forest, in which she was cocooned at birth; she assumes Maleficent is her godmother; uncontaminated by the wiles of the iniquitous, harbored and sheltered by three brainless, but well- intentioned fairies; intrepid in discovering beauty, blind to the world’s moral turpitude; Aurora is a metaphor for those few charmed, untainted human beings.
“Maleficent” is sublime entertainment for all audiences; youngsters will be fascinated by the sheer magnitude of the battles, the glorious, realistic performances by the actors; adults, surprisingly delighted, to revisit a tale, no longer intransigent but flexible in its complexities; an ancient story enlivened by a glazed contemporary patina.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!