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There are two sides to every story, and there can be countless versions of the same tale. Maleficent, the enchanting live-action reworking of the 1959 animated Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, has all the touchstones you remember: The spinning wheel, the poisoned needle, the three fairy godmothers, the charming prince and a fearsome dragon that can stand alongside Peter Jackson’s Smaug without shame.The main difference this time is that the fable is told from the point of the view of the eponymous villain (Angelina Jolie), an evil fairy who curses the infant daughter of the king (Sharlto Copley), condemning her to die on her 16th birthday.
Sporting giant wings, black horns on her head and eyes that constantly change color and sparkle with malice, Jolie resists the natural temptation to push the character into camp. Instead, she plays the role straight-up, with subtlety and feeling, wielding her natural beauty as a weapon. Even the augmented cheekbones that are part of her makeup can’t mar her looks, and first-time director Robert Stromberg, who won two Oscars for art direction (Avatar and Alice in Wonderland),(Watch Maleficent Online DVDrip Quality) goes in for close-ups of his star as often as he can. In a movie crammed with special effects — wait until you see the giant tree monsters — Jolie is the most startling and wondrous of all.Stromberg and screenwriter Linda Woolverton resist the temptation to darken the source material, first written by France’s Charles Perrault in 1697 and mutated into various incarnations over the centuries. Unlike Snow White and the Huntsman or Red Riding Hood, which upped the violence and danger in order to secure a PG-13 rating and lure older teenagers, Maleficent is unabashedly aimed at kids.
Aside from some cartoonish, overly cutesy forest creatures, the movie looks fantastic, shot in an inviting, striking palette by cinematographer Dean Semler (Apocalypto). Instead of falling into the CGI-overload trap that snared Sam Raimi in Oz the Great and Powerful or overloading the movie with superfluous subplots like Tim Burton did with Alice in Wonderland, Stromberg keeps the movie moving at a brisk pace (97 minutes), with no needless musical numbers or unnecessary characters.(Download Maleficent) The result is a rare live-action Disney movie that merits comparison to its beloved feature-length cartoons. Maleficent doles out some surprises in its second half, becoming its own film while still being worthy of the title Sleeping Beauty. For fun, try showing your children the original cartoon before taking them to see this new and inventive retelling and watch their young minds reel (for maximum effect, spring for the IMAX 3D version, which looks stunning). Maleficent is the summer’s first real surprise — a project that looked like a cash grab built on a well-known brand name, as well as a vanity project for Jolie. But the movie turns out to be sweet and funny and exciting and touching.
It also makes a convincing argument that sometimes, being bad feels pretty good.Movie There’s something to be said for giving even tiny tykes a good, old fashioned fright all in the name of good clean fun. But Disney’s “Maleficent” still feels like a sour miscalculation on somebody’s part.A dark, gloomy and quite violent riff on the “Sleeping Beauty” fairytale, this time seen through the eyes of the evil fairy who put this Beauty under a curse,(Download Maleficent) it’s a lovely-looking thing with most of the joy left out.In short, it’s the sort of movie we often get when somebody decides to promote a filmmaker from the visual effects ranks into the director’s chair. The 3D wonderland created here has the texture and tone of time-worn three strip Technicolor films from Hollywood’s Golden Age — think “The Wizard of Oz” or “Gone With the Wind.” But effects guru turned director Robert Stromberg rarely breathes life into the dazzling visuals he conjures up.
Angelina Jolie and her prosthetically augmented cheekbones have the title role, a fairy who grew up in The Moors amongst assorted pixies, trolls and sprites, only to have her heart broken by the human boy who, to win the right to claim the throne, avenges a malevolent king who has battled Maleficent by whacking off her fairy wings.The gruesome surgery takes place off-camera, for the most part.(Download Maleficent) That gives the fairy queen a grudge like no other. So when young Stefan (Sharlto Copley of “District 9″) becomes king, marries and his queen has a daughter, Maleficent storms her ex’s baby’s christening. And she lays on a curse. Young Princess Aurora will, when she turns 16, have an accident and “fall into a sleep like death.”Aurora will some day doze off and require a — wait for it — “True love’s kiss” — something the cynically wingless Maleficent doubts will ever happen.The Disney spin on the story is that Aurora, played by assorted adorable babies and toddlers, is sent to be raised by three incompetent pixies (Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville) to keep her from harm.
Maleficent looks over her, gets mistaken by the child (Elle Fanning plays her as she reaches her teens) for her “fairy godmother” and develops feelings for the rugrat, whom she nicknames “Beastie.”That situation is ripe for comedy, which this Linda Woolverton (“Alice in Wonderland”) script rarely delivers. Jolie can handle a withering put down and a convincing Mistress of Mayhem, but rarely gets the chance to do either.“I like you begging,” she hisses. “Do it AGAIN.”The pixies have their moments. Which are few. And the humorless humans have none.(Download Maleficent) Stromberg instead treats us to pretty little mudfights amongst Aurora and the froglike trolls of the swamp and big set-piece brawls between human soldiers and a forest turned into tree demons battling to save the magic.Impressive. And violent. Just not a lot of fun.The genesis of the "Sleeping Beauty" fable goes back over three hundred years, beginning with French writer Charles Perrault's "La Belle au bois dormant" in 1697, and later adapted into the Brothers Grimm's famous fairytale "Little Briar Rose" in 1812 and an animated Disney classic from 1959.
In providing a modern spin that breeds the story of old with a revisionist twist, live-action/CG extravaganza "Maleficent" is told from the point of view of the malevolent sorceress who reigns down a devastating curse on Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). If fans of "Sleeping Beauty" think they know the whole story, screenwriter Linda Woolverton (2010's "Alice in Wonderland") makes sure this is definitely not the case. While this new reimagining averts from expectations,(Download Maleficent) the decidedly rushed storytelling and sometimes garish aesthetic compromise what might have been a more noteworthy triumph. That leaves Angelina Jolie (2010's "Salt") to spice things up with what is destined to become one of the most defining film roles of her career.In a bucolic land of two kingdoms—one made up of humans led by a king and queen, and the other populated by magical creatures and no hierarchy—a young boy named Stefan (Michael Higgins) meets winged fairy Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy) after crossing into her threshold. As the years go by, friendship gradually turns to love before the two are torn apart by their respective kingdoms' rising contention.
Worse, Maleficent's entire outlook on the world changes in an instant when Stefan, overcome by his desire to take the place of the dying King Henry (Kenneth Cranham), severs her wings and passes them off as proof that he killed her. Stripped of her identity as a fairy, she becomes helplessly bitter and vengeful, striking down a severe brand of retribution by cursing Stefan's eventual newborn daughter, Aurora. She may be blessed with beauty and happiness, but what Aurora does not realize as she grows up in the ill-fitted care of aunties Flittle (Lesley Manville),(Download Maleficent) Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton) and Thistletwit (Juno Temple) is the never-ending, death-like sleep which awaits her by the sunset of her 16th birthday.The directorial debut of production designer Robert Stromberg (2013's "Oz the Great and Powerful"), "Maleficent" incorporates all of the cornerstones of the legend—rest assured, Aurora still falls into a seemingly eternal rest after being pricked on the finger by the spindle of a spinning wheel—and then builds around it a story of loss, betrayal and redemption which casts Maleficent in a newfound light.
At 97 minutes, the story beats feel rushed at times, the editing too quick to want to scurry to the next scene without allowing the characters and relationships to percolate and deepen with the resonance they should. The music score by composer James Newton Howard (2013's "After Earth") isn't offered its rightful showcase at the onset, the film foregoing so much as a title card when an opening credits sequence would have more effectively invited audiences into this filmic fantasy world. The computer-generated effects work is professional and occasionally bold,(Download Maleficent) but also on the overblown side, much of the landscapes looking exactly like places living only in a computer. Meanwhile, the creature designs (minus the title figure herself, who looks extraordinary) strike as a touch unrefined verging on the lumbering and juvenile. In miniature fairy form, Flittle, Knotgrass and Thistletwit are off-putting, while an early battle scene boils down to a fight between medieval soldiers and what can best be described as tree roots.Where the picture overcomes its hurried pacing can be boiled down to two words: Angelina Jolie. If every great actor gets a chance to portray a number of varied roles in their lifetime, they usually are best remembered for only a couple. One of those for Jolie will indisputably be Maleficent.
This is a part she was born to play, imbuing her every moment with a flurry of emotions ranging from passionate, to wounded, to outraged, to joyfully devious, to regretful. The crucial christening scene wherein she crashes King Stefan's celebration and uses baby Aurora to single-handedly make him sorry he ever crossed her thunders with all the electricity and scorn one anticipates.(Download Maleficent) Maleficent's backstory gives her a chance to grow beyond being a maniacal vixen with horns and a black cloak, however, and it is on this personal journey where things get more interesting.As the teenage Aurora, Elle Fanning (2011's "Super 8") is all angelic innocence and light, a beacon of goodness who, unfortunately, does not enter the film until it is roughly halfway over. Sharlto Copley (2013's "Oldboy") tries to give King Stefan multiple layers as he experiences shame and the knowledge of his wrongdoings in the name of greed and power, but there isn't enough time afforded for him to make a lasting mark.
In the oddball but oddly touching role of Diaval, a black crow whom Maleficent transforms into her human-looking minion, Sam Riley (2011's "Brighton Rock") is eye-catching, blending the untamed with the sympathetic. Positioned as Aurora's potential true love, Prince Phillip, Brenton Thwaites (2014's "Oculus") is barely there, popping up much too briefly to make any impression other than that he seems more dorky than conventionally dashing.In "Maleficent," Prince Phillip is hastily dropped along the sidelines for a reason: the film, unlike its animated counterpart,(Download Maleficent) is not about romantic love at all. In building a fresh mythology, director Robert Stromberg has made a fairytale not only of darkness, but of hope, and not only of good vs. evil, but of the goodness that even those seen as evil are capable of possessing. And, if the finished product would have ultimately excelled were its components—the characters, the plot, the visual conception, the technical credits—been given additional breathing room to burgeon and flourish, this does not take anything away from Angelina Jolie's indelible depiction of a misunderstood woman who loses her soul for a time to the unfair cruelties of the world.
In her relationship with Aurora, first as a creepy eavesdropper and then as a sort of godmotherly figure with ulterior motives, Maleficent is met with a crisis of conscience far more complicated than anything the villainess faced in "Sleeping Beauty." It is this element that gives the valiant but admittedly choppy "Maleficent" its significance as more than merely a by-the-numbers remake.Disney did an awesome job on this movie. It's got good, evil, mad, sad and everything inbetween.(Download Maleficent) The mood often shifts between dark and light and is done really well. It's not your typical fairy tale story. It's great both for children and adults. The acting was amazing and you really felt engaged with the story. The characters were very dynamic and much more complex than your typical Disney movie. The special effects were very well done also. The magic effects aren't overly done and presented very softly. I would highly recommend anyone of all ages to see this.
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