Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2014

Kind of a neat idea: invert the Sleeping Beauty yarn and tell it from the perspective of the evil fairy godmother in the 1959 Disney animation. In this version, Maleficent is a tragic figure, a happy fairy wronged by SB’s ambitious father (Sharlto Copley), who treacherously cut off her wings to gain his current position of power. In retaliation, she curses his newborn daughter to fall into a deep sleep on her 16th birthday, only to be awakened by True Love’s Kiss. But as Aurora grows to become Elle Fanning, Maleficent grows fond of her, and even tries to reverse the curse. Alas, she knows True Love does not exist. Though the film may sag in the areas of character development and motivation, the fantasy world created here is never less than visually astonishing and the tale emotionally absorbing. I was surprised at one point to realize what a good time I was having. This is of course due to Angelina Jolie’s committed and nuanced performance. I’m not saying she rates among today’s top actresses, but at the same time I can’t imagine anyone else giving this role such emotional punch. Not for little children. (98 min)