News

REVIEW: ‘Maleficent’ loses edge as Disney role model

REVIEW: ‘Maleficent’ loses edge as Disney role model

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Action, Adventure, Family | Run Time: 97 min | Rated: PG
Director: Robert Stromberg | Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

By: George Wolf

Hey, thanks a lot Wicked.

For those of us who love a good villain for their terrifying villainy, the popularity of the stage musical Wicked has created a bit of a problem: the neutering of the greatest of the greats. Gregory Maguire started it when he gave the Wicked Witch of the West a political backstory that exposed her self-sacrifice and good nature.

Now Disney wants to turn their greatest and most terrifying villain, Sleeping Beauty‘s Maleficent, into another role model.

Bah!

I’ll give them this. They can cast a lead.

Angelina Jolie has always cut an imposing, otherworldly figure, and Maleficent’s horns and leather look right at home. She offers the chilly elegance, dry humor and shadowy grace needed to bring the animated evildoer to life.

Plus, she looks great. And the film looks great – we’d expect nothing less from first-time director, longtime visual effects and set design maestro Robert Stromberg. But it’s not enough to save the effort.

The truly talented Elle Fanning struggles in an anemically-written role while Sharlto Copley flails, saddled with a character whose descent into madness is articulated with little more than overacting.

The basis of the problem is a toothless script by Linda Woolverton. Less the girl-power theme that elevated Frozen (another Wicked rip off) and more a bitter pill about untrustworthy men, the film feels mean in all the wrong ways. Woolverton’s also littered the enchanted landscape with forgettable or annoying characters – the three pixies of Disney’s ’59 animated film devolve from adorable, amusing pips to annoying, useless caregivers.

Stromberg’s plodding pace helps little. He forever undercuts any tension he builds, and the film suffers immeasurably from lack of momentum.

He and Woolverton could have learned a lot from the flawed but watchable Snow White and the Huntsmen (2012), a film that sought to update the old fable with a larger focus on its great villain without de-fanging her bite. Instead, Maleficent takes the very strongest element of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and weakens it.

Look out, Darth Vader. At the rate Hollywood is corrupting our great villains, you’ll be singing show tunes in no time.

Verdict-2-0-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent News

3 hours ago in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: May 3

dollyparton

A look back at some of the biggest headlines in Hollywood history.

14 hours ago in Viral Videos

The cicadas are coming …

24-overlay

Billions of cicadas will soon emerge after spending 17 years underground and they have a lot of catching up to do.

14 hours ago in Entertainment

Too much ice in your Starbucks?

starbucks265305906988

A federal lawsuit claims Starbucks regularly overfills its cold drinks with ice instead of using the advertised amount of coffee or other liquid in its plastic cups.

18 hours ago in Music

Nikki Sixx wants to help the next guy

nikkisixx961740673643

The Motley Crue rocker says it's important to champion new bands, as he’s been in the same boat.

19 hours ago in Sports, Viral Videos

It’s not ‘Regulators:’ Warren G butchers ‘Ball Game’

20-overlay-1

WATCH: The rapper messed up the first line and sang off-key.