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The idea of seeing classic villains in a new light certainly seems to be in vogue these days. Personally, I applaud the notion of understanding why someone acts the way they do and find it empowering while also engendering empathy towards others. This rather brilliant movie re-imagines the story of Sleeping Beauty with a few crucial twists. Set in a world rich with magic and stunningly rendered in a beautiful mix of live action and animated CGI, I’d place the visual effects to be right up there with the likes of Avatar and the Lord of the Rings movies. A hauntingly evocative soundtrack and absolutely gorgeous costumes and sets make this movie worth watching even if the story was sub-par. Fortunately, the story is anything but mediocre, cleverly deconstructing an interesting but one-dimensional Disney villain, breathing a whole new life into the old fairy tale. Jolie is perfect as Maleficent, capturing her journey from joyful innocence to brokenhearted pain lashing out in anger.  (The actress admitted she still has a pair of horns at home – who wouldn’t?)  The writers made a great effort to retain many of the key elements from the original Disney movie, making them the foundation on which to build a new and deeply moving tale of love, magic and betrayal, with an ingenious twist on who is really the villain. I really enjoyed it, but I was a little disappointed with the ending. There was much that was unexplored and I was left with quite a few burning questions. Perhaps since the writers had gone to such lengths to overturn many of the classic fairy tale tropes, they also wanted to muck with the usual romantic ‘Happily Ever After’ ending. This lack of a truly satisfying conclusion to all the story lines lessened my overall enjoyment of the movie, hence only four stars, but that’s just this reviewer’s personal opinion. Charming, beautiful, punctuated with piquant bits of merriment and with characters drawn in rather shrewd detail, this is a whole new kind of fairy tale that makes you think as well as dream. – BETHANY

For every imaginable detail about Maleficent, consult:

What am I doing here?  Why, I came for the party, of course.  I wasn’t invited? Oh dear, how awkward.

One of the many scenes shot as closely as possible to the originals in the animated classic.

Young Maleficent

Fairies Thistlewit, Knotgrass and Flittle (Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville)

Maleficent and Aurora (played by Jolie’s daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, who was the only child who wasn’t afraid of Jolie in her Maleficent guise.)

The Moors, a magical forest realm

Hey, Princess, it had better be magic making you touch that thing because otherwise I’ll have a poor opinion of your intelligence.

The classic image of Sleeping Beauty

Nice fairy tale castle!

She must have used magic to fan out her train because there’s no other explanation for this very nice shot.

Photos courtesy of Roth Films and Walt Disney Pictures


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