Seeking revenge for an act of betrayal by the kingdom's new ruler Stefan (Sharlto Copley), fierce forest fairy Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) places a curse on the king's newborn daughter. As Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) grows up and nears the fulfillment of the curse, Maleficent begins to have a change of heart. The live-action "Maleficent" is a novel twist on Walt Disney's animated classic "Sleeping Beauty", but is only moderately entertaining. First-time director Robert Stromberg delivers a fantasy world of wonder and excitement, but the magic that defines the best of Disney is absent. Scary scenes, some too scary for small children, are followed by lighter moments - mostly provided by the three fairies charged with raising the princess and protecting her. Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville are delightful as the inept threesome Knotgrass, Thistletwit and Flittle. The main reason to see this film is the spellbinding performance of Angelina Jolie, who simply overpowers the deficiencies of the script. The beautiful Elle Fanning does manage to steal a scene or two. Most of the actors look like their animated counterparts - which is surely intentional. Will the hardcore Walt Disney fanatics be pleased with this revised fairy tale? Only time and box office will tell. While "Maleficent" won't put the audience to sleep, the spell it casts is less than enchanting.
For those who were enchanted by this live-action fantasy, the Blu-ray combo pack (with DVD and Digital HD versions included) is a perfect addition to their home video collections. Visually spectacular with audio to match makes this another flawless Disney video release (11/4/2014). As usual, there are bonus features not seen in theaters. Among them are "Aurora: Becoming a Beauty" with Elle Fanning guiding us through her quest to become the princess and "From Fairy Tale to Feature Film", a background piece that is exactly what the title implies (look quick and you may see Brad Pitt). Rounding out the extras are "Building an Epic Battle", "Maleficent Revealed", "Classic Couture" and five brief deleted scenes. None of these bonuses are very long, but they are entertaining and slightly informative - making this home video edition a bit more spellbinding than the movie itself.