It’s no secret Angelina Jolie is what dreams are made of, and she’s in her element as Maleficent, the jaggedly angular fairy warrior with a heart of mostly gold (nobody's perfect) and a sly sense of humor. Pro-tip: While Angelina gives a performance so spot-on you’ll sometimes swear she’s animated, put aside whatever you knew of the Sleeping Beauty of Disneys' Past and keep an open mind for this retelling. It certainly takes some new, empowering, and genuinely heart-warming liberties.
Here are the basics: in a kingdom where humans and magical creatures don’t play nice, Maleficent is a teen fairy stuck in The Moors but loving every moment of her magical paradise, so much so she’ll do anything to defend it against the evil humans who are trying to tear it down. She’s pretty successful too- with her massive, super cool CGI wings (cue the ‘Isn’t Life Beautiful!’ flying sequences) she’s the most powerful fairy in the land. Enter a young boy whose life Maleficent saves after he’s caught stealing some jewels from the enchanted creatures. They become friends, grow to fall in love, and all seems perfect - which, as we all know, means everything’s about to go wrong. And it does! Not only does the boy leave his love Maleficent to pursue a life of royalty, he returns one day to commit the most grievous betrayal- something so heinous you’ll kind of be like, ‘Welp, Maleficent kinda had a point at that Christening ceremony, if maybe a smidgeon dramatic!’
In all honesty, there’s really no one who could play this role better than Angelina Jolie. Side characters support her nicely, but no one dares to stand out more, or could possibly begin to compete. Three cheers for Sam Reilly as a morally conflicted crow-man, and of course the as-pleasantly-bland-as-possible Elle Fanning as the lovely but almost disconcertingly vacant Aurora. She’s as lovely as necessary and sheds a proper tear when bummed out, but she is just about as interesting during one of the many times Maleficent puts her to sleep. The most wonderful Sleeping Beauty moment comes from Angelina’s own child Vivienne as Toddler Beauty, which is so adorable if you don’t yell “Awww!” in the theater you're probably at least whispering it in your mind. Also, bonus points to the dashingly adorable Prince Phillip, who I am convinced was played by Liam Payne of One Direction and will accept no other answer (real answer: it was total cutie Brenton Thwaites.)
Overall, there’s an impressive wealth of inspiring, girl-power themes here. It’s not the break-up that drives Maleficent to madness, but her assault. This isn’t a love story. It’s about the importance of family, respect, and fixing past mistakes (who hasn’t cursed a newborn at some point?). Oh, and of course cheekbones. How could we ever those cheekbones? So check Maleficent out this week! If anything who doesn’t want to watch Angelina Jolie be absolutely awesome for an hour and a half?