For Reel


Maleficent (2014)
December 1, 2014, 1:57 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Robert Stromberg
2.5 Stars
MaleficentDisney’s feminist reimagining of Sleeping Beauty seeks to humanize the callous fairy that has become one of the behemoth’s most iconic villains. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, and Angelina Jolie is an inspired casting choice–in recent hits like Salt, she was able to demonstrate both a ruthlessness and a vulnerability in the same breath. Her exaggerated cheekbones and cold glares are frightening in her most vicious moments, but she also has a sort of strong, maternal authority. That is, she’s stern, but ultimately loving. Unfortunately, Jolie is all the film has going for it. First-time director Robert Stromberg was a production designer on Alice in Wonderland and Oz the Great and Powerful and here his visuals have the same coldness as those imaginings. It’s The Hobbit more than The Lord of the Rings–everything feels just a tad off, and the sense of world-building is completely undermined by the suffocating special effects. The establishing shots are styled to look like paintings, and everything else looks like a fairly standard medieval set. There’s no connective tissue. The overdone fantasy battle sequences and disturbing fairies were undoubtedly slaved over by a team of visual effects artists for months… and yet, it is the comparatively minimalist shots in which Jolie looks on at Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) in close-up that have the most striking emotional effect.