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Robert Stromberg
Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton
Writing Credits:
Linda Woolverton

Evil Has a Beginning.

A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.

Box Office:
$180 million.
Opening Weekend
$69,431,298 on 3,948 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Video Service 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $36.99
Release Date: 11/4/2014

• “Aurora: Becoming a Beauty” Featurette
• “From Fairy Tale to Feature Film” Featurette
• “Building an Epic Battle” Featurette
• “Classic Couture” Featurette
• “Maleficent Revealed” Featurette
• Five Deleted Scenes
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Maleficent [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 27, 2014)

Every summer, various “tent pole” movies hit multiplexes with predictions of doom and gloom. Sometimes these come true, such as in the case of the 2013 flop The Lone Ranger.

But sometimes the naysayers miss the mark, and we find an example of this via 2014’s Maleficent. With a huge $180 million budget and a questionable target audience, plenty of observers felt the film seemed likely to fail.

Instead, Maleficent found a decent audience. No, its $241 million US gross didn’t set the world on fire, but through the end of October, that figure left it in the year’s top five – and with a whopping $757 million worldwide, the film clearly turned a nice profit.

This means the trend of “hard-edged reimagined fairy tales” popularized with 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman probably won’t abate any time soon. A reworking of Sleeping Beauty, a prologue introduces us to a realm in which two kingdoms – one human, one enchanted – butt up against each other. Inhabitants of the former tend toward a desire for power and greed, while those in the latter – a place called the Moors – live in peace and harmony.

The two realms interact when a benign, beautiful young fairy named Maleficent (Isobelle Malloy) meets a young human called Stefan (Michael Higgins). Maleficent learns that Stefan lacks parents and the two launch into a long-lasting friendship.

However, their relationship eventually takes a turn for the worse. Human King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) leads a war against the Moors and an adult Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) takes charge of the defense against this intrusion. King Henry declares that the person who kills Maleficent will become the next to ascend to the throne, so a power-hungry Stefan (Sharlto Copley) sets out to accomplish this deed.

In pursuit of this task, Stefan uses their friendship to get close to Maleficent and he renders her unconscious via drugged wine. Despite his desire to become the next king, Stefan can’t quite bring himself to murder Maleficent, but he does cut off her wings so he can “prove” to King Henry that he killed her.

This succeeds, and Stefan – now wed to Henry’s daughter Leila (Hannah New) – becomes king. They eventually bear a daughter they dub Princess Aurora.

During a celebration for the new princess, Maleficent – understandably angry at Stefan - crashes the party and puts a curse on Aurora. On her 16th birthday, the girl will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into an eternal sleep that can be cured solely by “true love’s kiss”. The rest of the film follows attempts to keep Aurora (Elle Fanning) safe as well as Maleficent’s unlikely relationship with the princess.

As with most of these modern day fairy tale adaptations, fans will see a lot of the “classic version” in Maleficent. When compared with Disney’s 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, the core tales come with quite a few similarities, especially related to the elements connected to Aurora and her fairy godmothers.

However, Maleficent manages many changes and feels like a “backstory” affair much of the time. It doesn’t go the same path as 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful, as that hit told a tale that essentially offered a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Maleficent offers all the same events as Sleeping Beauty but it adds a lot of information about how the characters got there and changes our understanding of the narrative as well.

I like these notions but don’t think Maleficent investigates them in a wholly satisfying manner. Some of that comes from the movie’s running time, as it flies by in a surprisingly brisk 97 minutes. I feel like I usually complain about film’s that last too long, so it seems odd to criticize a tale’s brevity, but given the epic nature of the material on display here, I think added footage would’ve given the flick more scope.

The relatively brief running time robs Maleficent of some depth. The film seems to rush through events so quickly that we barely have the chance to get to know the characters, and that means we feel somewhat disconnected from them. Perhaps the producers figured fans already knew the core tale and didn’t need much exploration of those areas, and maybe they’re correct, but I still think the movie could use a bit more room to breathe.

Despite those areas, Maleficent mostly supplies an entertaining fable, and a lot of the credit goes to Jolie’s delicious performance as the lead. Of course, she chews a bit of scenery – that becomes inevitable with a larger than life role such as this – but she also manages to bring heart and humanity to the part. She turns a classic villain into something quite different and manages to carry the movie a lot of the time. If we found a less capable lead, Maleficent could’ve sunk.

The other actors do fine as well, though some dodgy computer animation mars the project. This becomes an issue largely due to the depiction of the three good fairies. Wisely, the movie makes them “human-sized” before too long and eliminates the need to maintain them as completely CG personalities, but when we see them in that form, they never look convincing. Other uses of CG don’t fare much better, and those elements remain somewhat problematic; someday technicians will pull off consistently realistic artificial characters, but they’re not there yet.

Even with these issues, the movie’s action scenes work nicely. The presence of Jolie again benefits these moments, as she brings power to everything she touches. Even without her, though, the film manages some good punch and excitement when it goes into battle mode.

This mix of ups and downs leaves Maleficent as an inconsistent experience. It shows plenty of room for improvement but still comes with enough positives to make it a reasonably enjoyable tale.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

Maleficent appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image provided strong visuals.

Overall clarity looked fine. If any notable sharpness materialized, I didn’t discern it, as I thought the movie remained dynamic and concise. I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes stayed absent. Print flaws were also a non-factor in this clean presentation.

Colors were stylized and tended to vary among teal, light green and amber. A few other tones emerged but these tints dominated. I thought the hues looked fine when I considered those choices. Blacks appeared deep and dense, and shadows demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. No issues materialized in this solid transfer.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Maleficent. As befit an action movie, the soundscape offered a lot of vivid material. The magic and/or battle oriented scenes delivered a good punch, as they used the various channels in an engrossing manner. Quieter sequences also satisfied, as they showed a nice sense of place. Music fared well, as both score and songs featured positive use of all the speakers.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech was distinctive and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music boasted nice range and clarity, while effects offered solid accuracy and heft. Bass response was deep and full throughout the movie. All of this combined for an excellent soundtrack.

Most of the disc’s extras stem from five featurettes. Aurora: Becoming a Beauty lasts four minutes, 53 seconds and includes notes from producer Joe Roth and actors Elle Fanning and Angelina Jolie. “Beauty” looks at the Aurora character as well as Fanning’s casting and performance. The short sticks with a gushy, fluffy tone and doesn’t boast much informative value.

During the eight-minute, 13-second From Fairy Tale to Feature Film, we hear from Jolie, Roth, Fanning, writer Linda Woolverton, executive producer Palak Patel, director Robert Stromberg and actor Sam Riley. “Film” examines the core story and its adaptation for Maleficent as well as aspects of a few characters. “Film” remains fairly puffy but it offers a bit more substance than “Beauty”.

Next comes Building an Epic Battle. It goes for five minutes, 34 seconds and features Woolverton, Roth, stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart, SFX supervisor Michael Dawson, and senior visual effects supervisor Carey Villegas. This short covers issues related to the movie’s battle scenes. Like its predecessors, it seems light on concrete information.

Classic Couture fills a mere one minute, 34 seconds with info from millinery designer Justin Smith. He discusses Maleficent’s head wrap and other costume elements. I like the look at some details of the clothing but the piece is way too brief to become substantial.

Finally, we get the four-minute, 45-second Maleficent Revealed. It shows various movie shots at different stages of effects completion. I’d like something with narration/explanation, but it still gives us some decent views of the work done to bring the magic to life.

Five Deleted Scenes go for a total of six minutes, 41 seconds. In these, we find “Stefan in King’s Chamber” (2:34), “Pixies Seek Asylum” (1:51), “Pixie Idiots” (0:22), “Diaval Asks About the Curse” (1:00) and “Suitor” (0:51). These tend toward minor expository information, without anything especially significant on display. Some seem entertaining enough, though, like the additional attempts to awaken Aurora in "Suitor”.

The disc opens with ads for Cinderella (2015) and 101 Dalmatians (1961). Sneak Peeks adds promos for Disney Parks, Star Wars: Rebels, Once Upon a Time and Agents of SHIELD. No trailer for Maleficent appears here.

A second disc delivers a DVD copy of Maleficent. It includes the “Becoming a Beauty” featurette but lacks any of the Blu-ray’s other extras.

Although not a great film, Maleficent becomes the best of the modern “reworked fairy tales”, largely due to its star. Angelina Jolie carries the film on her back and helps redeem many of its flaws. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio but comes with lackluster bonus materials. While I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about Maleficent, I think it offers decent entertainment

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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