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The events that hardened the villainous Maleficent's (Angelina Jolie) heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning)..

Review by Louise Keller:
In a word, Maleficent is magical, with Angelina Jolie hypnotic as the betrayed fairy from whose perspective this re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty is told. Jolie has never looked more stunning – big eyes, ruby lips, porcelain skin and chiselled cheekbones – her face simply glowing and glowering from a range of emotions to match the fairy tale’s narrative. Perhaps she like Maleficent, is really not of this world: we are bewitched by her beauty, talent and charisma in this breathtakingly beautiful fantasy world.

In his directing debut, dual Oscar winning art director Robert Stromberg, with the assistance of an army of special effects magicians has created a magnificent and enchanting reality in which the elements of the age-old story of the spinning wheel, the sleeping princess and love’s true kiss are turned upside down. Based on Charles Perrault’s story La Belle au bois dormant, Linda Woolverton’s screenplay relies on character, ensuring the richness of the tale. 

If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, it goes without saying that there are plenty of fireworks both emotional and visual, when it comes to the betrayal of Maleficent, the beautiful fairy who rules the forest. Sharlto Copley is effective as the deceitful traitor whose ambitions to be king prompt his unconscionable stealing of Maleficent’s powerful wings: the wings that carry her high into the clouds, keeping her strong and infallible. The wings, like Maleficent’s swan-shaped black horns are a striking accessory. 

Sam Riley as Diaval, who becomes Maleficent’s wings, is terrific; Maleficent playfully changes him into a bird, a dog, a horse and a dragon at will, as the situation requires it. Imelda Staunton, Leslie Mann and Juno Temple provide some light humour as the three fairies who raise the young Princess Aurora and the image of Elle Fanning, as the princess, under a blanket of multi-coloured autumn leaves in the forest is an indelibly lovely one. Fanning is delightful, perfectly embodying the young Princess gifted with beauty and happiness.

The magic of the film is that the visual effects blend seamlessly into the reality, while Dean Semler’s cinematography uses light and dark to describe good and evil. The textures of the forest, with its giant tree-folk, colourful flowers, elves, goblins and fairies are intricately woven into the essence of the tale, while James Newton Howard’s melodic score wraps the package into one highly enjoyable gift. Janet McTeer provides the effective narration – her character not revealed until the film’s end.

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(US, 2014)

CAST: Angelina Jolie, Juno Temple, Elle Fanning, Hannah New, Sharlto Copley, Brenton Thwaites, Peter Capaldi, Ella Purnell, Miranda Richardson, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville

VOICES: Charlotte Chatton


DIRECTOR: Robert Stromberg

SCRIPT: Linda Woolverton, John Lee Hancock (based on the story, Sleeping Beauty by the Brothers Grimm and previous movie adaptations)


EDITOR: Chris Lebenzon, Richard Pearson

MUSIC: James Newton Howard

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dylan Cole, Gary Freeman

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes



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