In a word: Abbreviated
Interestingly, the biggest problem that many Disney live-action fantasy adventure films have had over the past few years is that they’ve all been far too long.
Maleficent problematically suffers from the exact opposite. Perhaps the studio wished to overcorrect its past mistakes with this one, however this is one film that would’ve been serviced well by some more time to play with. Many important parts of the narrative are summed up in brief sentences of narration and there are far too quick leaps from plot point to plot point that could’ve used more deliberate development. The short runtime also leaves little room for any of the supporting characters to develop above two-dimensional clichés. Even Maleficent herself could’ve used a bit more character growth on screen, but at least she does grow (however illogically so). Unfortunately, this lack of detail and thought coats the film with an aura of mediocrity.
The film looks fantastic, having been directed by special effects artist Robert Stromberg in his directorial debut. Angelina Jolie is undeniably superb in the title role and Elle Fanning is a well-cast Sleeping Beauty/Princess Aurora, radiating a juvenile and vibrant innocence graced with beauty and elegance. Sam Riley is also memorable as Maleficent’s henchman.
Overall, Maleficent was an enjoyable film however it can’t be ignored that the film falls short of the grandeur it had all the tools to produce.
REVIEWER: David Thomas Williams