‘Maleficent’ is ‘entertaining, uncomplicated’
Not having seen the first iteration of Maleficent, this one can well stand on its own, although no real moral to the story comes through at the end. It is, nonetheless, a childrens’ fairy tale. With the title role, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) isn't on screen too much and has even less to say. Being the high-caliber actress she is, she can say a lot without even moving her lips. The pointy cheekbones are a little creepy but her wings, horns and movements were smooth and flowed with precision.
The real main characters are Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Phillip (Harris Dickinson). The movie hints at the fact Aurora was Sleeping Beauty and perhaps I missed whether it was Phillip that awoke her or if it was some other prince. Aurora's character was keeping with Disney tradition of innocence and perhaps late adolescence. She even ran with her arms stretched behind her. But alas, Aurora and Phillip are from two different worlds: she from a magical land filled with fairies and fantasy creatures far outside the castle walls. And Phillip is from the sectarian world inside the castle walls. Aurora's world is governed by Maleficent, Aurora's godmother, known to be the wicked witch everyone fears. Phillip's world is ruled by his father (Robert Lindsay), a peace-loving king and his mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). Queen Ingrith is calm, cool and collected on the outside. But on the inside she carries quite a vendetta against the fairies. She wants nothing to do with them except wipe them out.
Time is spent developing each side's own explorations that further the plot. Jolie discovers long, lost cousins and people like her that are living in hiding. Keep in mind Jolie and her kind are all winged creatures. The scenery as they fly over jungles and seascapes is amazing. It may even remind you of other movies with winged creatures. The castle and courtyard layout is intricate and detailed. As a matter of fact, most everything is very colorful.
The end goal of course is to join the two realms through Aurora and Phillip's marriage. Ingrith's conniving and planning to undercut the marriage and destroy the fairies is well thought out. There is a lot of interaction between fairy characters and human characters and I think a little more humor could have been injected. Not to say there weren't a few funny quips, but they were few and far between.
The final battle was relatively brief and allowed Phillip more screen time. I'm sure it wasn't his best role. The standout character here was Jolie with her staunch initial presence and subdued magical exercises. At the end even she lightens up a bit.
The movie is rated PG and runs about 119 minutes. If you can get through some boring parts at the beginning you'll do fine through the rest. Yes, there is some fighting but no graphic violence or nudity or foul language. It's not a complicated film and I was entertained. The title however needs work.
I'll give Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 3½ Miners.