Sunday, June 8, 2014


Movie Name: Maleficent
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Robert Stromberg
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, June Temple, Sam Riley, Brandon Thwaites, Kenneth Cranham, Hannah New, Isobelle Molloy, Michael Higgins
Genre: Action, Family, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

"Maleficent" is the debut feature for Robert Stromberg, after a career in production design and special effects (he won Oscars for both Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" and James Cameron's "Avatar").
The film focuses on the story of a fairy named Maleficent. She lives in a kingdom of magical creatures, which is surrounded by a kingdom of humans, ruled by a greedy king who is adamant on taking over the magical surroundings. Upon seeing his army vanquished, he requests that one of his underlings vanquishes Maleficent and gains access to her kingdom. This request is taken by Stefan, an ambitious young man, whom Maleficent has loved since her young childhood. He takes advantage of her affections, and that drives her to a dark side and to seek revenge upon all the wrongs inflected on her and her kind.
Robert Stromberg is clearly a talented technician, with a gift to create universes that are rich and support the vision from other filmmakers and storytellers. However, in his debut feature, he does not benefit from a rich enough screenplay, to actually provide a canvas for his story telling and universe to be brought to life. The central character, Maleficent, though larger than life and rich enough to have a film focused on her, fails to have much to do throughout the film, thanks to a reductive screenplay, where the trifecta of her motivations are love/revenge/redemption. In the hands of a more experienced director, that would be enough for a richly layered film, however Robert Stromberg merely illustrates the story in a decorative way, giving a hint of a certain darkness, never probing much deeper into the character of Maleficent. Angelina Jolie does a fantastic job, as usual, investing the character with a depth that the film never matches, however the supporting actors have little to do with characters that are basic archetypes. A missed opportunity.