Have I told you before that I would probably pay top dollar just to go watch Angelina Jolie stand on a stage and read the phone book? Yeah..I would.
She has found quite a vehicle for her talents in Disney's re-imagining of one of their animated classics as MALEFICENT.
Perhaps inspired by the huge success of "Wicked" and its clever look at the real story behind Dorothy's trip to Oz, Maleficent features a back story showing why our evil headliner is who she is, giving new depth to the character and her motivations.
The good news is that Jolie is up to the task, having a LOT of fun playing it dark and evil with a twist of dry humor. She looks fantastic.
The other good news is that the rest of the cast, especially Elle Fanning as the teenage Aurora, who is doomed to be Sleeping Beauty and Sharlto Copley as a new King that greatly changed Maleficent in her youth.
Then there's the bad news: We have seen these "lands" before. These towns are a very familiar mashup of the worlds of Avatar & Lord of the Rings, there's nothing new about these environments. I'm starting to think that CGI digital effects have destroyed our sense of wonderment in film.
More bad news: The story line is truly a VERY different version of the classic tale. I can see why maybe the basic story of a girl that can only be awakened by a kiss from Prince Charming appears out of date in today's time, but isn't there some middle ground between the classic tale and the post modern, female empowerment version of the tale shown here?
Believe me, I know the power of a parent's love for their child, but I could hear the clamoring of the Hollywood writers crawling over each other to avoid delivering a sexist message in the last third of the film.
Can a classic story just sometimes stay a classic story?
In the end, its a nice 90 minute diversion thanks to Jolie's performance, some GREAT visual tributes to the animated original and another beautiful music score by James Newton Howard.
Lana Del Ray's haunting version of "Once Upon A Dream" over the end credits is excellent. It's only matched by the shadow of Maleficent entering the palace on the day of Aurora's christening. It's the perfect visual tribute to Disney's Sleeping Beauty, capturing the animated version and recreating it live in a style so clever, you only wish the rest of the film could live up to the moment.
Angelina, you get an A.
The film, a meandering B-.