Angelina Jolie delivers a great performance for a role that looked like it was made for her, but sadly a badly written screenplay turns one of the most iconic villains of all time into a glorified nanny and what could have been a compelling story into a trope of the scorned woman.

Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever. (c) Walt Disney Pictures

Maleficent has the ingredients for a compelling film.

It has a bankable actress perfect for the role. Angelina Jolie delivered a great performance as the enigmatic winged fairy. One pivotal scene was very affecting because of her acting. In the olden days of yore before all the mega blockbusters Jolie showed that she’s capable of depth other than looking bad ass and coasting on her looks.

Disney is tweaking the fairytale formula by crafting a more female centric theme. The film adds a bit more depth to the story by exploring Maleficent’s character with a dash of gray morality.

The film’s use of shadows, combined with high production value that replicated the look of the original, is nostalgic and great. The movie is too bleak for its target audience, but this would look cool with a well executed narrative. Plus, we all know that a big chunk of the audience are adults who have been waiting for Maleficent to get her own film.

Unfortunately that doesn’t happen because the film wasted everything that could have elevated it beyond a studio milking fan service.

Maleficent is turned into the jilted ex, cursing a baby that she ends up watching over for 16 years. One of the iconic villains of all time is turned into a nanny and prankster for no convincing reason. Instead of fleshing out the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora, the film cuts back and forth to subplots that has nothing going for it – paranoid king is paranoid, incompetent fairies are incompetent.

The rest of the cast doesn’t have much to do but were decent. However Elle Fanning is dull. She spends most of the time just prancing around until the film adds a plot twist ala Frozen. But this is just a half-ass attempt to create a female driven film. Soon it moves on to what its really about – the scorned woman finally square off with her douchebag ex for a last showdown.

Angeline Jolie does her best but the film fails her with an inconsistent tone (is it a fairytale, a dark fantasy or medieval science fiction?),  and a vapor thin story (hence the need for a narrator). For all its attempts to create a bad ass movie for a bad ass icon, it just ends up creating another poorly written female character. She may not be a damsel in distress in dire need of a prince charming, but her existence still revolves around a dick (literally and figuratively).

My Rating: 5/10

Movie Art by Rhys Cooper

Advertisements