A Disney villainess getting her very own big-screen origin story; a production designer from “Avatar” at the helm; the magnificent Angelina Jolie wearing prosthetic cheekbones, blood-red lipstick, and a leather horned helmet like something out of a dizzy dominatrix daydream.
For all of these reasons and more, “Maleficent” was the summer-season release that everyone was waiting for, a longed-for peek into the backstory of the woman who responded to an ordinary party snub by putting a death curse on a baby. But did the movie live up to its promises of greatness? Entertainment Magazine has rounded up a selection of reviews from those who loved it, those who loathed it, and those who thought the movie’s message was more than the sum of its parts.
Angelina Jolie: Best Bad Guy Ever
“This is Jolie’s film because of the Maleficent she makes. Everyone else, even Aurora, fades in her presence. When she is on the screen, she is all you really see. In addition to an uncanny resemblance to the animated queen — those legendary cheekbones enhanced to an even sharper edge, those horns — the actress creates a queen who may not be easy to love, but she is hard to hate.” — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
Fracturing the Fairytale
“Consciously or not, coherently or not, ‘Maleficent’ tells a new kind of story about how we live now, not once upon another time. And it does so by suggesting, among other things, that budding girls and older women are not natural foes, even if that’s what fairy tales, Hollywood and the world like to tell us.” — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“Robert Stromberg, the expert draftsman in his debut as director, has no mastery of casting and guiding actors, little sense of narrative pace or build and — the big, sad surprise — a leaden sense of visualizing Maleficent’s fairyland. Full of spells and transformations, the movie couldn’t be less magical.” — Richard Corliss, TIME
Great Characters, But a Weak Script
“The characters are boiled down to their essentials, the humor is timelessly broad, and Jolie’s at her best when she’s curling her claws and elongating her vowels like a black-sabbath Tallulah Bankhead. Unfortunately, the story is more than a bit of a muddle, a string of sequences that shuttle the characters back and forth between the film’s sole two locations, a castle and a magic forest.” Keith Staskiewicz , Entertainment Weekly