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.

Latest Stories

9 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: In-fighting is entertaining in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

13-overlay

"Civil War" stands out as certainly the biggest of the stand-alones, and among the best because of what it has in common with the better films in the Marvel universe: the conflict is deeply human, told humorously, and best enjoyed if you don't overthink it.

11 hours ago in Viral Videos

This ‘Game of Thrones’ inspired Mother’s Day gift is sure to be a hit

24-overlay-1

Still looking for a last minute gift for mom? Jimmy Kimmel has got you covered.

11 hours ago in National

Trump looks to unify Republicans; Kasich reported dropping out

17-overlay

Billionaire Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday with a message on unity that also suggested he was not going to work too hard to placate some party establishment figures angered by his outsider candidacy.