I love fairytales. I Iove them in their original forms (the grimmest of Grimm for me) , but they’re also ripe for reworking. Like Shakespeare’s plays, fairy tales contain such universal themes and truths about humanity, that they can work well transposed into almost any time or place and their characters are familiar enough for the impact of the reimaginings  to be clear.

Maleficent then, is essentially the tale of Sleeping Beauty, with the ‘wicked fairy’ moved to centre stage. Here, she is given a back-story; a compelling psychological reason for her vicious turn at the Princess Aurora’s christening. Angelina Jolie is never less than impressive as Maleficent, as malevolent and magnificent as the name implies, sporting a set of cheekbones you could slice a loaf of bread with. This ‘fairy’ is ironically a deeply human character, with flaws as well as virtues, weaknesses as well as strengths.

The film looks stunning. The cinematography works perfectly, combining with state-of-the-art special effects to create a convincing fairyland from a river and some woods, and the supporting cast, including Elle Fanning as Aurora, all do a decent job. Unfortunately the dialogue is clunky and expository in places and this mars the film significantly. Make no mistake, whatever else, this is Jolie’s film and it is her performance you’ll remember at the end.

3.5 stars

Susan Singfield