Review: Writer Linda Woolverton’s ‘Maleficent’ was a variation on Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Disney’s version of the the story was a variation on Charles Perrault’s adaptation of a tale that went back centuries as oral tradition. In short, it’s all fanfic. Was Maleficent good fanfic? Yes. It was.
The story was narrated by the adult Aurora (Janet McTeer). It was the story of what truly happened. The kingdom of the fairies and the kingdom of humans were at war. A young human boy named Stefan stole a jewel from the fairies. In the process, he met a young winged fairy named Maleficent. One thing led to another and they fell in love. Years later, the old king Henry (Kenneth Cranham) was mortally wounded by Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) when he tried to conquer the fairy kingdom. Dying, he swore that whoever vanquished Maleficent would marry his daughter and inherit his kingdom. A now older and ambitious Stefan (Sharlto Copley) set out to do so. Using their former bond against her, Stefan cut off Maleficent’s wings in a scene that was clearly allegory for rape. In this context, Maleficent cursed now King Stefan’s baby Aurora. What followed was a story of paranoia and redemption.
Jolie and Copley were marvellous to behold. She explored Maleficent’s vengeance and her unforeseen bond with Aurora with real depth. He embraced Stefan’s increasing insanity with both arms. Aurora (Elle Fanning) ended up caught between them. Fanning brought three dimensions to Aurora’s innocence and tenderness. In the end, I cried for Maleficent and for Aurora — a mark of good storytelling and good storytellers. I give Maleficent 5 out of 5.
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
Ella Purnell and Isobelle Molloy as young Maleficent
Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora
Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and Eleanor Worthington Cox as young Princess Aurora
Janet McTeer as elderly Aurora
Sharlto Copley as King Stefan
Michael Higgins as young Stefan
Sam Riley as Diaval
Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass
Juno Temple as Thistlewit
Lesley Manville as Flittle
Brenton Thwaites as Phillip
Kenneth Cranham as King Henry
Hannah New as Leila