[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00IXGU8YG][/pullquote]If you hadn’t worked it out from the Princess and the Frog, Frozen and Brave, then you will certainly learn it from Maleficent “ the all-powerful Disney brand is now well and truly on a new path.
Gone are the days of helpless princesses and two dimensional villains who are ugly because they are evil and evil because they are ugly.
So when the ugly duckling of the fairies Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) comes literally flying onto the screen we are presented with a new type of protagonist “ a fairy with brown, bird-like wings and surly horns which are at odds with her trusting spirit and strong moral compass. Which begs the question that has been on everyone’s lips from the first moment they saw Jolie mutter the iconic Well, well, well in the trailer: what will Disney come up with to turn the good Maleficent, bad?
The answer is of course, man, specifically a human boy called Stephan (Sharlto Copley), Maleficent’s childhood love who eventually commits the ultimate betrayal against her so that he can become king. Maleficent takes revenge by cursing his baby daughter Aurora in front of the entire court in a scene which (gleefully) is almost a word-for-word reproduction of 1959 original.
But from here the story differs and as the film unravels we see how it might be Aurora herself who unites, rather than divides the two kingdoms.
There are plenty of insightful references and reimaginings to excite fans of the original here, as with the thorned forest, Lana del Rey’s Once Upon a Dream theme-song and Maleficient’s anthropomorphic sidekick Diaval (Sam Riley) who becomes her wings after she loses her own.
Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville as the three well-meaning but useless fairies tasked with bringing up the young Aurora are the most obvious vehicles for light-relief.
But the film’s biggest thrill (and its biggest mistake for not making enough of it) is Maleficient’s biting wit. Jolie is staggering and steals the film as you would expect in the titular role with her ice-cool delivery, word-perfect accent and seemingly made for the role good looks.
Her metamorphosis into the character we all we love to hate and her battle against her slowly melting feelings towards Aurora result in the film’s best comic moments.