Once upon a time there were two kingdoms. One was full of regular selfish, greedy humans and was ruled by a king who’d come to power on a platform of conquering the other kingdom, which was full of magical creatures. There lived Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy), a fairy who was so kind and good she spent her days complimenting astoundingly ugly monsters and using her magic powers to heal broken tree branches. Then she met a human named Stefan (Toby Regbo) when he was caught trying to steal a rock, and if you thought this movie was above saying “he left having stolen something far more valuable” after he and Maleficent hang out, you’d be sadly mistaken.
The years go by, and as the voice-over informs us, “friendship turned into something more, and on her 16th birthday Stefan gave her a gift – true love’s kiss.” But more and more often Stefan is off trying to make a buck while she’s busy leading her kingdom’s forces against the king’s army (cue giant tree-men), and when they finally do get back together the now-grown Stefan (Sharlto Copley) has been thinking a little too hard about the King’s offer that whoever defeats Maleficent (now Angelina Jolie) will become his heir. So Stefan slips her a roofie, then cuts off her wings – he’s too kind-hearted to actually kill her, which just makes this sequences seem a little rapey. He becomes king, she turns into the evil Queen we remember from the Disney cartoon, and the movie finally kicks into high gear. For about ten minutes.
No sooner has she cursed Stefan’s child than she rescues a raven (Sam Riley) to become her studly shape-shifting manservant, and we’re stuck with a Maleficent who is more snarky than satanic. Even mildly snarky Jolie can be fun, and as a large stretch of this film is just her being arch while surrounded by a lot of happy goodie-goodie characters – including the cursed princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), who mistakes Maleficent for her fairy godmother and quickly warms her icy heart – there’s no real cause for complaint.
It’s a weird mish-mash of fairy-tale and sword & sorcery saga, but aren’t all Disney movies these days?
Written by Anthony Morris