STARRING: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton
DIRECTOR: Robert Stromberg
THE SKINNY: The supposedly villainous Maleficent (Jolie) is a beautiful fairy whose wings were stolen by a childhood friend (Copley) who goes on to become king. In order to get revenge, she curses his daughter Aurora (Fanning) to sleep forever after she turns 16. As the years pass, Maleficent ends up liking the girl and regrets her decision to doom her.
THE CONSENSUS: The story and character of Maleficent? Hardly enchanting. Jolie as Maleficent and the look of the flick? Terrific.
Fairies are kind of my favourite thing.
I recognise that this is an odd admission for a middle-aged man, but so what?
Free to be you and me.
Anyway, I only tell you this so that when I say that Jolie's Maleficent is the most splendid fairy I've ever seen, hopefully my words will have some weight.
Of all the movie fairies out there, she's the best.
Director Stromberg isn't much of a storyteller, but he's an incredible designer, and the movie looks perfect.
While he spent his career in visual effects and production design - for which he's won multiple awards - this is his first gig as director.
Stromberg won two Oscars in art direction for both Avatar, which was basically a story about big blue space elves, and Alice In Wonderland.
He also did the design work on Oz The Great And Powerful.
He obviously has a feel for fantasy aesthetics.
From Maleficent's whimsically-spiralling horns to the truly powerful-looking wings to the flared cheekbones to the elegant robes, she's a stunningly beautiful and uncompromised creature.
She's not cutesy; she has dignity and poise.
Certain shots of her are downright painterly, and will leave you in awe.
When she loses her wings, I actually wept.
Unfortunately, the flick's middle is a bit listless, but otherwise I adore Maleficent.
Is Maleficent the bad or good guy?
That was the question my eight-year-old son bugged me with throughout the movie.
I can understand where he was coming from because I asked myself that too.
In this iteration that serves to give us Maleficent's back story, we're told that she's a good fairy who chose the dark side after getting her heart broken.
Yet mid-way through the film, she starts bonding with Aurora, despite being the one who cursed her in the first place.
Therein lies my main problem with this movie.
To me, Maleficent has always been an iconic Disney villain, one who's truly fearsome.
Here, she's bland, often shown skulking behind trees, and is never really given much time to bare her fangs.
It's a pity as that scene where she curses baby Aurora offers so much promise if Maleficent was allowed to be evil.
Having said that, Jolie is downright mesmerising as Maleficent. Without her, this movie would have been a total failure.
While it's visually stunning, the paper-thin script doesn't allow us to feel for any characters.
Fanning is nothing but a giggling little girl, while Copley's king is merely a one-dimensional psychotic ruler.
Once again, Disney redefines the "true love's kiss" stereotype, but because of Frozen that came before, you can see the twist from a mile away.