MALEFICENT | REVIEW

It had been a long time coming but I finally got to catch up with Kernel Jack last night, he joined me at this screening of MALEFICENT at George St cinemas, and I have not seen him in about three years when we used to work together, we ate a yummy Japanese meal with a beverage or two and then entered, in much anticipation to see this visual Angelina Disney dynamo of a film. Problem was, it was crap, Kernel Jack started laughing and adding the occasional guffaw at points of poor filmmaking, of which there were many. Sadly, the hopes I had for this film came crashing down. MALEFICENT is out now, runs for 97mins and is rated M.

 

MALEFICENT MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
MALEFICENT | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MALEFICENT (ANGELINA JOLIE) POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

First-time Director, gambled on by Disney to the cost of $175MIL, Robert Stromberg, ambitiously retells the story of that beauty who was supposed to be in a glass box, Sleeping Beauty. He adds a twist to it, nicely taken from the recent stage play, Wicked, and tells it mostly from the point of the “should be” evil fairy, Maleficent. Maleficent is a young joyful fairy, the largest fairy in the Moors, one side of a land balancing a precarious peace. She dreams of a life of beauty and happiness in this peaceful magical land. But the land of man is too close and she meets a young boy, Stefan, and they share love’s first kiss, and fall for each other.

As time goes on Stefan comes to the Moors less and less, and slowly gets seduced into the world of man where greed is all. One thing leads to another and Maleficent is tragically betrayed, hurt beyond imagination and her heart turns to cold stone and a cloud descends on the Moors in reflection of Maleficent’s mood.

She curses a young girl, Aurora, at birth, that when she turns sixteen she will fall into a sleep similar to death until her true love kisses her. And try as she might, Maleficent can’t hate Aurora as she watches her grow and awaits her sixteenth birthday.

 

MALEFICENT DIAVAL POSTER IMAGE
MALEFICENT | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | DIAVAL (SAM RILEY) POSTER

 

Visually, this is the film of the year so far, it is Lord of the Rings quality, the effects are mind blowing and are coupled by the lifelong skill of master cinematographer Dean Semler (Dances with Wolves, Apocalypto). Have to insert a brag here – I got to meet Semler when I was working in a cinema at 19yrs of age, Dances with Wolves was playing in the cinema but he was there to see something else, I had a hideous photo taken with him :).

Cinematography, imagination and effects are it though, the film falls flat on its ass after this. The film is swallowed by the effects and it is quite obvious why, Stromberg (director), may be a first time director but he is a master effects wizz. He is responsible for effects on Life of Pi, The Hunger Games, Tropic Thunder, and a million more things all the way back to Star Trek: The Next Generation. His skill in effects is sublime, but as a director he needed to do more. Firstly, he overlooked script, the “It’s Over” line killed me and I swear Kernel Jack burst into laughter. Then there was casting……….

Angeline Jolie is an amazing woman, I love her, I love on film, but in this it was like she was drowning in botox and valium. I felt the film, and Jolie’s character was soulless. She is much better when she is being evil and snarly, and one scene she has with baby Aurora I loved 🙂 But the character was too conflicted, Maleficent should have been more evil or more good but this bouncing between did my head in. Her name itself means to be evil in intent or effect and she does so in effect, barely. There is also way too much posing in character, she is a godlike woman in real life and the makeup and costume emphasise this on Jolie but the camera spent too much time admiring her when it could have done more.

 

MALEFICENT AURORA POSTER IMAGE
MALEFICENT | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | AURORA (ELLE FANNING) POSTER

 

Now – as a role model for women, Maleficent, in my male opinion, is poor. She basically stands for the ethos of “mess with me and I will destroy you and turn into an evil witch.” Probably not the best example for little girls 🙂 The good thing I liked about the characters arc was that she did realise the error in her ways and work to correct it.

Then there was Sharlto Copley as older King Stefan, WORST CASTING CHOICE EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR. The end on that!

I also realise that one of the charms Elle Fanning’s character Auror had was to be perpetually happy (or words to those effect) but she was so happy and high on life I just wanted to slap her. The scene where Maleficent realises this and puts her to sleep was one of the best in the film 🙂

Sam Riley was great as Diaval, Maleficent’s right hand man/raven/wolf/ dragon. He provided the occasional comic relief and duo to Jolie’s Maleficent but it was underutilised. It was a wasted opportunity because this part of the story was really interesting.

Final character to mention, it is a small part, but Prince Phillip, played by rising star Brenton Thwaites. It was too tiny a role to really mention but Thwaites is about to become a household name after getting noticed firstly as the cute Aussie kid in Home and Away and then in the remake of Blue Lagoon followed by Oculus and upcoming films The Signal and The Giver with three other films in his line up. He is such a cutie, I dibs a laybuy on him haha.

 

MALEFICENT IMAGE
MALEFICENT | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | AURORA (ELLE FANNING) AND PRINCE PHILLIP (BRENTON THWAITES)

 

My final grievance, who is this film being made for? If I look at it as a kid’s film it succeeds, if I look at it as an adult, it is a fail. However extreme action and dark fighting scenes negate it as a children’s film and place the film in a precarious market. Too adult for kid, too kid for adult. One thing would have made sense to me to make this film a huge success, besides a script rewrite, better casting and a more broad attention to things besides the effects. This should have been a musical animation – it would have nailed it and could have had music to give the film more soul. It could have also allowed Maleficent to be more camp, again providing more heart and soul.

Sadly, for me, this film is a failure besides the special effects. If you see it let us know what you think!

 

JK’S POP SCORE:

2 Pops

KERNEL JACK’S POP SCORE:

2 Pops