Starts May 29, 2014
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Writing credits: Linda Woolverton, John Lee Hancock, Charles Perrault story
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Brenton Thwaites, Kenneth Cranham, Hannah New
Length: 97 minutes
An old tale told again: a fairy lives in a tree between two contradictory kingdoms—one good, one bad. One is stone and mortar inhabited by foolhardy humans while the other is flora, fauna, and folkloric fantasy creatures. A wandering young thief meets and steals the fairy’s heart; time passes. When the King offers throne and daughter in exchange to whoever captures the “monsters”, ambitious Stefan (Copley) steals far more from Maleficent (Jolie) this trip. She befriends a crow (Riley), and retaliates: a curse resonates throughout both realms. Replete with a delightful trio of imps (Staunton, Temple, Manville), a prince and princess (Thwaites, Fanning), enchantments, incantations, and surprising transformations, do experience this telling—ignore anyone wanting to expose the ending! Our story source is impeccable.
Disney broke ground of this lucrative cinematic milieu with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937); contrarily Disney fairytales end happily. Robert Stromberg’s direction, a stalwart cast, and captivating special effects deliver a fun mythological caper. Once or twice the film almost slides down a saccharine slope, saved by one-liners usually sarcastically delivered by Maleficent. Whimsical interpretations in the production design, sets, costumes, et al, and James Newton Howard’s music alluringly tickle our imaginations. Which Dean Semler’s camera captures, and Chris Lebenzon and Richard Pearson tightly edit. Remember your first fairytales? The breath-holding anticipation waiting for the page to turn? That feeling is ours again watching Maleficent. (Marinell H.)