News

REVIEW: ‘Maleficent’ loses edge as Disney role model

REVIEW: ‘Maleficent’ loses edge as Disney role model

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Action, Adventure, Family | Run Time: 97 min | Rated: PG
Director: Robert Stromberg | Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

By: George Wolf

Hey, thanks a lot Wicked.

For those of us who love a good villain for their terrifying villainy, the popularity of the stage musical Wicked has created a bit of a problem: the neutering of the greatest of the greats. Gregory Maguire started it when he gave the Wicked Witch of the West a political backstory that exposed her self-sacrifice and good nature.

Now Disney wants to turn their greatest and most terrifying villain, Sleeping Beauty‘s Maleficent, into another role model.

Bah!

I’ll give them this. They can cast a lead.

Angelina Jolie has always cut an imposing, otherworldly figure, and Maleficent’s horns and leather look right at home. She offers the chilly elegance, dry humor and shadowy grace needed to bring the animated evildoer to life.

Plus, she looks great. And the film looks great – we’d expect nothing less from first-time director, longtime visual effects and set design maestro Robert Stromberg. But it’s not enough to save the effort.

The truly talented Elle Fanning struggles in an anemically-written role while Sharlto Copley flails, saddled with a character whose descent into madness is articulated with little more than overacting.

The basis of the problem is a toothless script by Linda Woolverton. Less the girl-power theme that elevated Frozen (another Wicked rip off) and more a bitter pill about untrustworthy men, the film feels mean in all the wrong ways. Woolverton’s also littered the enchanted landscape with forgettable or annoying characters – the three pixies of Disney’s ’59 animated film devolve from adorable, amusing pips to annoying, useless caregivers.

Stromberg’s plodding pace helps little. He forever undercuts any tension he builds, and the film suffers immeasurably from lack of momentum.

He and Woolverton could have learned a lot from the flawed but watchable Snow White and the Huntsmen (2012), a film that sought to update the old fable with a larger focus on its great villain without de-fanging her bite. Instead, Maleficent takes the very strongest element of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and weakens it.

Look out, Darth Vader. At the rate Hollywood is corrupting our great villains, you’ll be singing show tunes in no time.

Verdict-2-0-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

22 mins ago in Music

Charles Kelley is a dad

Fresh
charleskelleycassiekelley

The "Need You Now" singer and his wife Cassie McConnell Kelley welcomed son Ward Charles Kelley on Thursday.

2 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Star Wars’ producers face charges in Harrison Ford’s on-set accident

18-overlay-7

The "Indiana Jones" star broke his leg when the door of the Millennium Falcon fell on him during filming in 2014.

3 hours ago in Lifestyle

More Americans turning to Internet to play Cupid

tinderreuters

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a survey shows that more Americans are looking for love through online dating, with more than four times as many young adults using mobile apps than in 2013.

6 hours ago in Entertainment

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ headed for Broadway debut

mockingbird

Harper Lee's classic novel is coming to Broadway for the first time in a new stage version written by "West Wing" writer Aaron Sorkin.

7 hours ago in Entertainment

Charlize Theron gearing up for ‘Fast 8’

charlizetheron

The "Mad Max: Fury Road" star is in early talks to play the villain in the eighth installment of the hugely successful street racing series.