MUMBAI: “Let us tell an old story anew,” Janet McTeer’s voice echoes as a revision to the old fable opens. Given the rather stodgy characters in the 1959 Walt Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, the character of Maleficent is by far, the most interesting; which makes her perfect fodder for a revisit.
The concept of retelling the classic Sleeping Beauty from the antagonist’s point of view is intriguing but the film itself is a visual feast.
All’s well for the young and beautiful fairy Maleficent till a boy Stefan stumbles into the forest where she lives and wins her heart. However, ambition takes its toll and Stefan leaves Maleficent only to return for worse – cutting off her wings. Having lost her wings and her faith in love, a shattered Maleficent resolves to seek revenge at any cost and destroy Stefan and his newly minted empire.
Comparisons with Disney’s 1959 film are inevitable, especially in the first half which includes scenes reminiscent of the old film, making the storyline and development of Maleficent’s character rather anomalous. However, as malevolence tries to redeem itself through maternity, right from the expose of Aurora to the curiosity of first love to Maleficent exposing her most vulnerable side in the final climactic event, Linda Woolverton’s screenplay shines through in the second half.
Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) is mesmerising as Maleficent; malevolent but motherly when required. Elle Fanning brings her own vivacity to Aurora while Sharlto Copley as Stefan makes the Queen of Evil look sunnier in comparison. After reprising a Dolores Umbridge whom fans love to hate in the Harry Potter franchise, Imelda Stanton’s turn as pixie is the surprise package.
After winning many a golden statuette for production design, Academy Award winner Robert Stromberg makes a stellar directorial debut with Maleficent, coupled with a gripping score by Emmy Award winner James Newton Howard.
It’s possible you’ll continue to hum Lana Del Rey’s rendition of Once upon a Dream long after leaving the movie theatre!