Casting a New Spell
For fairytale aficionados, the incomparable Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty undergoes a radical transformation in the hands of Angelina Jolie. Director Robert Stromberg paints a world of light and dark, populated by characters which continue to stir the imagination. It’s a wonderfully re-imagined take on good versus evil, revenge, the inevitability of time and love’s enduring power.
Jolie captures something nearly impossible to render in animation. There’s a passion behind her eyes which informs every scene. Her interactions are varied, yet she pulls us into the story by being herself. Above all, Maleficent demonstrates a far more sensitive and vulnerable character than we saw in the 1959 Walt Disney production.
A special side-note appears in Lucy Bevan’s casting: Jolie’s daughter Vivienne plays five-year-old Aurora, and the latter’s sparkling presence filters into Elle Fanning’s work seamlessly. Also, the film gains added depth whenever Janet McTeer lends her sophisticated voice-over to the mix.
Maleficent features an original James Newton Howard opus. His music occupies that rare space in which tenderness and fortissimo (very loud chords) form a singular experience. His themes simply glide across each majestic canvas. Front to back, Dean Semler’s imagery achieves a splendid flow under the editorial supervision of Richard Pearson and Chris Lebenzon. (Capsule review)
(Released by Walt Disney Pictures and rated “PG” for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.)