No stranger to larger-than-life characters, Angelina Jolie doesn’t chew the estimable scenery in Maleficent — she infuses it, wielding a magnetic and effortless power as the magnificently malevolent fairy who places a curse on a newborn princess. Her iconic face subtly altered with prosthetics, she’s the heart and soul (Maleficent has both, it turns out) of Disney’s revisionist, live-action look at its most popular cartoon villain, the self-described Mistress of All Evil from 1959’s Sleeping Beauty. A few bumpy patches notwithstanding, the new feature is an exquisitely designed, emotionally absorbing work of dark enchantment. With the production’s star wattage, well-known source material and multipronged branding push, the studio should see its $175 million gamble on a first-time director stir up box-office magic both domestically and in international markets.
As the Broadway musical Wicked did for the Wicked Witch of the West, the movie humanizes Maleficent by creating an origin story, revealing a shocking betrayal that turned the kind fairy vengeful. Reworking an age-old tale that has undergone countless variations over the centuries, the screenplay by ...
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