Film Review: Maleficent

MALEFICENT

Disney’s Maleficent is a rich fairy tale which should prove beguiling to viewers.

A young fairy grows up in a peaceful forest which neighbours a human kingdom. As Maleficent grows up, a betrayal sets in motion a series of events which has consequences for both worlds…

Robert Stromberg’s directorial debut is an aural and visual fantasy feast. The director’s visual effects background is clear from the outset. Notwithstanding, the story is also strong; functioning as a compelling retelling of a well-known tale.

Screenwriter Linda Woolverton’s narrative works to both provide back story to the Sleeping Beauty tale, and to subvert it to make its antagonist more rounded. More than a one-sided villain, Maleficent is given shades to make her character more compelling in this version. Perhaps it says something that she is most enthralling when she is bad, nevertheless the portrayal is satisfying overall.

The influence of recent Disney films is present in Maleficent. This is by no means a bad thing; but simply means that the film may have a twist that some viewers will predict. Nevertheless, the depiction here is a healthy one, that few will find fault with.

Like Woolverton’s work in Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent is a darker fairy tale that still remains accessible for family audiences. The small elements of humour work well to bring lightness. The film would be less family friendly without these moments.

The art direction and costuming plays a substantial role in Maleficent. The effects are also superb, and the cinematography makes the most of its striking subjects. There is some marvellous silhouetting, and camera work in transporting viewers through the fantasy landscape.

Angelina Jolie shines as the title character. She brings a suitable campness to the role of Maleficent. Elle Fanning is well cast as Aurora, and Sharlto Copley is on good form as Stefan.

Maleficent is a highly entertaining fantasy, combining traditions of classical Disney with that of the emerging direction of the studio.

Stuff To Look At

Here lies the brand new Interstellar trailer, plus Cinderella, Transformers: Age of Extinction, A Million Ways to Die in the West and more…

Interstellar

Here is the latest Interstellar trailer. Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated film stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. Interstellar will be released in the UK on 7th November 2014.

Cinderella

Hot on the tails of the upcoming Maleficent, another Disney classic is given the live-action treatment. Starring Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård and Helena Bonham Carter, and directed by Kenneth Branagh, This teaser does not reveal much, except an awfully shiny glass slipper. I always thought glass shoes would be incredibly painful to walk in, yet Cinderella dances the night away in hers. Anyway, Cinderella is set for release on 3rd April 2015.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Here is the latest trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction. The most important thing you will see occurs in the last twenty seconds. Dinobots! Starring Marky Mark, Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer, although the humans are decidedly less important than the robots in disguise. Transformers: Age of Extinction hits UK screens on 10th July 2014.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Above is a clip from the upcoming comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West. Without context, the clip seems only to offer a glimpse into the character of Albert, played by Seth MacFarlane, who also directs, produces and co-writes the film. A Million Ways to Die in the West is released in cinemas on 30th May 2014.

22 Jump Street

Here is a new clip from 21 Jump Street sequel 22 Jump Street. The film sees Schmidt and Jenko head to college. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum had good chemistry in the first film, which will hopefully be replicated here. 22 Jump Street hits UK cinemas on 6th June 2014.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I saw this trailer in Imax a few days ago, and it looks mighty impressive on the big screen. The follow-up to the 2011 hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes stars Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke. I am hoping for flashback sequences of baby Cesar, although great action will do just fine. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is released on 17th July 2014.

Summer of Cinema

Here is a compilation of all the big films that are being released this summer, from the Film Distributors’ Association. I didn’t recognise all of them, but there are some exciting films to come this season. If you can’t get enough of trailer compilations, I suggest you check out this blockbuster one by AMONymous.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic delights, including the last Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer, the latest X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer, Maleficent, Noah and more!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Above is the final The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer. Spider-Man is basically fighting everyone. Everyone. He really needs his Amazing Friends. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane De Haan and Jamie Foxx, The Amazing Spider-man 2 hits UK screens on 18th April 2014.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Here is the latest trailer for sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film features characters from the original X-Men series as well as the younger versions from X-Men: First Class, taking place over two time periods. X-Men: Days of Future Past is released in the UK on 22nd May 2014.

Maleficent

The latest trailer for Maleficent suggests the film will be much more action packed than the standard fairy tale. Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent looks deliciously wicked, yet the trailer indicates that the film will show another side to the iconic character. Maleficent is released in UK cinemas on 30th May 2014.

Noah

I’m sure there are more than two of some of these animals in the latest clip from Noah. Just how big is this ark going to be to fit them all in, with sufficient provisions so they don’t start eating each other? I guess we will find out when Noah hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

Pioneer

Well this looks tense and interesting. Based on true events, Pioneer is the story of a team of divers going to lay a pipeline in the North Sea. Reportedly due for a Hollywood remakePioneer is released in UK cinemas on 11th April 2014.

Snoopy and Charlie Bown: A Peanuts Movie

With Postman Pat and Paddington Bear getting big-screen features, it is not really a surprise that Snoopy is following suit. This teaser does not reveal too, much other than Snoopy is as cheeky as ever. Snoopy and Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie is due for release in 2015.

The Maze Runner

THe latest film to be based on a best-selling young adult movel that I haven’t read, The Maze Runner is an action thriller set in a dystopian world. I like the look of the maze in this film, but with my sense of direction I wouldn’t last too long. Starring Dylan O’Brien and Will Poulter, The Maze Runner is out in UK cinemas on 24th October 2014.

Rio 2

‘It’s a Jungle Out Here’ is one of the songs from the upcoming Rio 2. The animated sequel sees the return of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann and Jamie Foxx. Rio 2 hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic treasure this week, with the new A Million Ways to Die in the West trailer, Noah, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more…

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Warning: this A Million Ways to Die in the West trailer is red band. A Million Ways to Die in the West is the latest film from Seth MacFarlane, who also leads a cast that includes Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson. A Million Ways to Die in the West is set for release on 6th June 2014 in the UK.

Noah

This is the Superbowl TV spot for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. It is an intriguing prospect; a director like Aronofsky doing a large-scale biblical epic. The story of Noah does not seem meaty enough for a feature film, so it plot must be fleshed out somehow. The mystery of the unicorns perhaps. Noah is released in UK cinemas on 4th April 2014.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Black Widow

This new character poster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier suggests Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow has a prominent role to play in this Marvel sequel. Given her somewhat ambiguous nature in previous appearances, it will be interesting to see what director’s Anthony and Joe Russo do with her here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is hits UK screens on 26th March 2014.

The LEGO Movie

I used to love Lego so I find The LEGO Movie appealing. From the above featurette, the film smartly does not seem to take itself seriously. With a host of star names and featuring Batman, I am hoping the film will be an amusing adventure. The LEGO Movie is released in cinemas on 14th February 2014.

A Long Way Down

An adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, A Long Way Down offers a rather macabre premise made humorous. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette and Aaron Paul, A Long Way Down is out in UK cinemas on 21st March 2014.

Starred Up

Starred Up posterStarred Up is a new British drama starring Jack O’Connell and Rupert Friend. The film is about Eric, a troubled teenager transitioning from young offenders’ institute to prison. You can watch the trailer here. Starred Up is released on 21st March 2014.

Maleficent

This new trailer for Maleficent was released earlier this week, with Lana Del Ray’s rendition of ‘Once Upon a Dream’. Angelina Jolie was looks like she was made for the title role, in physical appearance at least. Maleficent looks like it will be quite dark, going back to its fairy tale roots. Maleficent hits UK cinemas on 30 May 2014.

The Invisible Woman

Here is a TV spot for the upcoming film The Invisible Woman. The story of Charles Dickens and his young lover Nelly, the film stars Ralph Fiennes (who also directs) and Felicity Jones. You can read my review here. The Invisible Woman is released nationwide in the UK on 21st February 2014.

Stuff To Look At

A brand new clip from The Wolf of Wall Street, Muppets Most Wanted and plenty more…

The Wolf of Wall Street

After the excitement for the trailer, here is a new clip from The Wolf of Wall Street. Jonah Hill’s character looks like he could be a lot of fun. Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoirs, The Wolf of Wall Street is out in UK cinemas on 17th January 2013.

Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted poster

Following the release of the trailer, here is the poster for Muppets Most Wanted. The film has a lot to live up to, after the success of The Muppets. Muppets Most Wanted is set for release on 28th March 2014.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Here is a clip from the upcoming sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Will Ferrell and his co-stars have done a lot of publicity for the movie, and there is a weight of expectation given that the original has become such a favourite. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues hits UK screens on 18th December 2013.

American Hustle

AMERICAN HUSTLE poster

This poster is just everything. The Hair. The Costumes. The Hair. With an all-star cast, American Hustle is released in the West End on 20th December 2013 and in the rest of the UK on 1st January 2014.

Robocop

I watched the director’s cut of the original Robocop again recently and it really does hold up well (bar a few dated special effects). What this remake has going for it is an impressive cast (Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton). RoboCop is released in UK cinemas on 7th February 2014.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of

After the fantastic posters, here is a new image of Michael Fassbender from X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film blends its predecessor with the previous series of X-Men films, by the casting at least. X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled for a May 2014 release.

Maleficent

This teaser trailer for Disney’s Maleficent reveals little bar the title character. After the success of the musical Wicked and Oz The Great and Powerful, there seems to be a trend for revisiting fairy tales to show the other side. Maleficent is due for release in the UK in Spring 2014.

Stuff To Look At

Some delights for the eyeballs with Frankenweenie, Monsters University, The Expendables 2 and Pitch Perfect.

Frankenweenie

With these images, you are really spoiling us, Disney. Not content with releasing the first image of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent at the beginning of the week, Disney have also furnished us with new images from Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Obviously, I am choosing to share the image of Sparky, the hot piece dog at the centre of the film. Frankenweenie is due for release on 17th October 2012.

Monsters University

I have a terrible confession to make. I have never actually seen Monsters Inc. I know, shoot me down. Many centuries ago, in my brief stint as a ‘Cast Member’ for The Disney Store, we used to sell all kinds of Sully-emblazoned merchandise. Thus, I am aware of the characters and the general happenings of the film, even though I have never watched Monsters Inc. The follow up, prequel Monsters University, is due for release next summer so I have plenty of time to see the original.

The Expendables 2

Of the films out this summer, The Expendables 2 is one I am really looking forward to. With the inclusion of Jason Statham, Jet Li and others, The Expendables 2 is not really an eighties action star reunion. Nevertheless, the film does feature Norris, Stallone, Lundgren, Schwarzenegger and Willis. Not exactly a bad cast. The Expendables 2 is out in cinemas on 16th August and I cannot wait.

Pitch Perfect

What’s this? Another Glee-inspired film about a singing competition? Yes and no. Like Joyful Noise, it is unlikely that the success of Glee did not impact Pitch Perfect being green lit. However, the film seems to have more of an attitude than the television show, so hopefully amusement will trump saccharine sentiment. Pitch Perfect is out in UK cinemas on 19th October 2012.