I watched Maleficent last night because I had to see something and never in a million years was I going to pay for Neighbors or A Million Ways to Die in the West. This was the only halfway decent option. I don’t normally do film criticism (or criticism of any kind, really) but this film came so close so often that I can’t stop myself from calling out the unfulfilled potential. So just a couple notes:
Angelina Jolie was freakin’ awesome. She carried the whole thing. I’ve never had strong feelings about her one way or another, but on the strength of her performance here I’m now a fan. Hello, beastie.
I could have done without the pixie trio, but I guess it wouldn’t have been Sleeping Beauty without them. But here’s the thing: Their gifts to the princess, especially the one about how everyone who meets her will love her? If you give that half a thought, it undermines the whole arc of Maleficent coming to love Aurora. That should happen naturally, on the strength of Maleficent’s suppressed good nature, not because some two-bit pixie made it so.
True Love’s Kiss. Really, they’re giving us the same twist we just saw in Frozen? I mean, it’s a great twist and all, but the audience last night saw it coming from miles away and even groaned in anticipation.
She spared the king’s life. She told him their fight was over. It was perfect. Then he attacked her again and fell to his death, even though she could have saved him. Far, far from perfect. Letting him die lowered Maleficent to his level. If the filmmakers really thought the audience demanded vengeance, they could have made this king suffer even more by living with the knowledge that he had lost his daughter’s love to the woman he betrayed.
And finally: fantastic cheekbones. Seriously. See it just for that.