This weekend, Angeline Jolie had her biggest live-action opening ever as Maleficent conjured up an estimated $70 million at the box office. Fans have been eager to see the new take on the tale of Sleeping Beauty ever since the teaser showed a creepy horned Jolie whisper to Elle Fanning, "Then you'll be afraid." Was it worth the wait? As far as Jolie's performance as misunderstoodl—but still very vengeful—wingless fairy named Maleficent the answer is an absolute yes. Jolie chews scenery in the best way possible. All with that killer grin. The rest of the film is not terrible, but without the its main star, all you'll think is "Where is Jolie?" Fortunately, the titular character takes up a lot of screen time although at a brisk 90 minutes, Disney's latest feels more like a TV pilot than a full-fledged summer blockbuster.
Whenever Angelina is onscreen you'll be spellbound, but it'll take more than true love's kiss to keep you awake for the rest.
1. Angelina the Magnificent: For the mother of a six, UN ambassador and love of recently assaulted Brad Pitt, this is the role she was born to play. The scorned fairy tale gives the A-lister oodles to channel; cunning, terror and something we don't usually see in the actress: a wicked sense of humor. The bold black horns, the way angular cheekbones and sparkly green eyes assist Maleficent to being larger than life visage. Jolie's performance makes you root for her all the way.
2. FX Expert as Director: Robert Stromberg has been the main visual effects supervisor on some beautifully realized fantasy films like Alice in Wonderland. Nearly every shot is filled with fairies, creatures, and more to distract from a lack of focus on telling a compelling story. The script by Linda Woolverton ends up taking a back seat to the eye candy. A shame since the story hints at potentially game-changing material.
3. Reinvention of Sleeping Beauty:. Ever since Wicked overtook Broadway, Hollywood became interested in giving classic villainess' a chance to tell their side. After being betrayed by her childhood love, Maleficent grows to mistrust the world of man. The young boy is now a king (Shalto Copley) and wants to take over the impenetrable magical forest to the north. All that stands in his way is her. After showing up uninvited to a party for the king's baby daughter Aurora, she curses the child to sleep forever once pricked by a spinning needle on her sixteenth birthday. Here's is where the script starts to deviate from the Disney classic animated film: It turns out Maleficent ends up taking better care of her than the three inept fairies that were charged with protecting her from Miss M. All good. Yet, as mentioned, the overabundance of 3-D distractions never lets the script breathe.
4. Elle Fanning's Lightest Role Ever: The 16-year-old has been acting since she was a baby (playing older sister Dakota Fanning's younger self in I am Sam). She's been in over 20 films, yet this is her first major role in a summer blockbuster. Her smile is radiant… which is also all she gets to do as Aurora. We don't blame the young thespian though.
5. The Kiss of True Love, Truly: Like Frozen, breaking the spell is cleverly more honest than trope-ridden. Huzzah!