FANTASY; 1hr 37min
STARRING: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley
Disney’s wicked fairy Maleficent (“Mal-eff-icent”), she of the low-down curse, originated in 1959’s Sleeping Beauty by way of an ancient French fairy story. Modernised by director Robert Stromberg for a wow-heavy now, Maleficent (Jolie) is the strongest and most protective fairy of her magical, fantastically-lensed yet humans-plagued kingdom. Sprouting industrial-strength wings and horns, eerie contacts and pointily enhanced cheekbones (as if they needed any help in the first place), Jolie’s soaring warrior is pure-hearted but hardened by the betrayal of the man she loves (Copley, plumbing nutty depths as Stefan).
Hell hath no fury like a wicked fairy scorned, and when King Stefan’s daughter, Princess Aurora (Fanning as a teen), is born, Maleficent is outraged. Crashing the christening, she blood-curdlingly decrees that on her 16th birthday, Aurora will fall forever into a deathlike sleep-by-spindle-prick, unless awakened by true love’s kiss, which you’d have to say seems unlikely, given the frigid emotional climate: Maleficent is a hardass with a vicious wit and Jolie positively whoops her up. The witchy special effects are a hard-to-top brew of operatic, ethereal and playful, but their star — icily imperious, transfixed by yearning and sorrow — is the most uncanny illusion of all.