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Sometimes a piece of perfect casting goes a long way: Angelina Jolie only has to cock one mildly perturbed, ruthlessly arched eyebrow to upstage all the fairy dust swirling around her in Disney’s uneven rethink of its classic villainess. Jolie is a terrific vision, decked out in leather-wrapped horns that feel more comic book than forest-dwelling evil fairy. But if you go into ‘Maleficent’ expecting Jolie to be the badass of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ you’re going to get burned.

This new version is about her softer side: she’s a wounded heroine who looks out for princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) even though she has cursed her to eternal sleep. Such revisions feel slightly out of place: at one point, Jolie cuts loose with an actorly scream at the loss of her wings, and it’s as if she were auditioning for the wrong movie.

Still, a lot of thought has gone into the gauzy feel of this universe; it’s directed by an Oscar-winning production designer, for good and ill. Twisting, thorny woods, magical sunbeams, fluffy stuff floating in the air – it’s pretty much the movie Ridley Scott wanted to make with his 1985 stinker ‘Legend’. You’ll wince at the indignity of brilliant actresses like Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville reduced to playing squeaky-voiced sidekicks; and when the famous dragon from ‘Sleeping Beauty’ finally does appear, it somehow has less fire than the hand-painted one from 55 years ago. But for tweenage princess obsessives, this is a perfectly acceptable next step after ‘Frozen’.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Wednesday May 28 2014
Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie
Elle Fanning
Sharlto Copley

Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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I actually really liked this film and am quite surprised by the negative reviews. Its an interesting re-make of the classic Sleeping Beauty story, told from the point of view of the villain (or is she..!?) I'm not usually a fan of Angelina Jolie, but I though she played the part of Maleficent really well and was far more understated than usual. 

Intriguing and full of feeling, a good movie for kids (and adults). 


Maleficent is a perfectly watchable film, made enjoyable primarily by the imposing presence of Angelina Jolie. The reworking of the story to explore how and why she became the villain of the piece is an interesting one, and when it delves into its central themes of love and betrayal it is at its most interesting. It's a shame, then, that so much of the film is taken up by gauzy fluff, such as the three forest fairies, that doesn't really suit the film's tone and style. I suppose it is a Disney film, but you get the feeling - much like with the animated Hunchback of Notre Dame - that it could be so much better if it weren't trying to appeal to toddlers and adults at the same time. It's a great Sunday afternoon watch, and very attractive to look at - but it could have been so much better!


I was extremely excited to see Maleficent and it completely paid off for waiting. I remember watching the film when it first came out and I continue to love watching it. The director of Maleficent did a huge, marvellous job with the story of the Sleeping Beauty. I love how they slightly twisted the story and we actually find out that Maleficent is actually not so evil as we thought. I was thoroughly caught on the story. Anna B. Sheppard did such an incredible work with the costume. Maleficent's costumes just oozed with power, darkness and pure evil. I was extremely captivated with that enormous cape and that for me was a true inspiration. Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning just brought this film to life with their powerful acting. Angelina carried Maleficent's dignity beautifully well. Just watch it! #TOTastemaker Love MD.


This movie has earned over $750million so it is a huge success by many standards and it certainly has a lot going for it. It looks spectacular - this is obviously what Disney were aiming for when they hired Robert Stromberg, whose previous experience was in special effects, as director. They took a risk by giving him the largest ever budget for a first time director and it paid off. The style of the film is individual and the worlds he created are lush and beautiful.

Angelina Jolie is perfect for the part, always visually striking. As Maleficent, she is cold and polished, yet she is compassionate and composed when necessary and she makes us believe these changes in temperament. She needs to be strong as this film is all about her, every other role is almost a cameo.

It was nominated for an Academy Award for Costume Design and this was deserved.

It is darker than expected for a Disney film, but this adds a little depth and probably reflects the slightly older audience they were aiming for.

Overall, although it does not really go any where new, it is a high quality, enjoyable Disney telling of a classic fairytale.


A harmless fairytale with razor sharp cheekbones. You don't need to watch this movie to know exactly what is going to happen as it follows a pretty well tried and tested formula but at the same time it is not offensive. Jolie does bad fairy with a heart how it should be done and the special effects play their part. A good movie for a rainy afternoon to enjoy with crumpets and tea. 


I didn't really fancy watching this movie until I decided to have a watch when there was nothing else on I fancied. It actually surprised me, as Angelina Jolie's character isn't just a black or white character. This one's all about shades of grey as she literally gets her wings clipped, curses Sleeping Beauty and then regrets the decisions she's made in life. It doesn't all make sense in places but it's an enjoyable fantasy story.

Not a big fan  the awesome costume makes for a great silhouette but she couldn't emote at all behind all that make up. It was like watching a bad computer animation with an OTT Brit accent. Little Fanning looks happy as a chipmunk but no room for anything but her great beauty to be explored. I know I'm not their target audience but I'd hoped that Disney would grow the expletive up. MEH