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Direction: Robert Stromberg
Actors: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning
It's an auspicious match-up between actress and role. Returning to the big screen after a hiatus of four years, Angelina Jolie is bewitching as the titular mistress of evil in this live-action update of Walt Disney's iconic Sleeping Beauty (1959).
First-time director Robert Stromberg, a former production designer with back-to-back Oscars (Avatar, Alice In Wonderland) to his credit, melds eyeball-caressing visuals with storytelling skills.
Right away, we are transported to a forest kingdom brimming with magical folk both beastly and benign. Told from the perspective of the misunderstood villain (Jolie), the narrative is recast as a tale of female empowerment.
Read: Angelina Jolie's daughter Vivienne debuts with mom in Maleficent
It seems that our anti-heroine is a tragic victim of circumstances. Driven by a desire to exact vengeance against the king (Sharlto Copley) who betrayed her trust, she casts a spell on his newborn daughter. In true fairytale tradition, though, the wronged woman has a change of heart and pitches her lot with the grown-up princess to ensure that peace returns to their kingdom.
Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville, British stalwarts familiar from the films of Mike Leigh, fetch up as the pint-sized pixies tasked with bringing up the young heir to the throne.
Some of the more harrowing scenes might frighten young viewers. The bland use of 3D is a further deterrent. If ever a film didn't need the murky added dimension, this is the one.
Sporting ruby-red lips, coloured contacts and swan-shaped horns, Angelina Jolie hasn't been as impressive since her Academy Award winning turn in Girl, Interrupted back in 1999.
Just for her, Maleficent is a must-watch.