Dear reader, what could I say at this point? There are plenty of reviews of this movie that bombard it with mostly adoration. I tend to agree with the positive reviews. Angelina Jolie as the title character is perfection, delivering the kind of gazes and half-smiles that only she could produce with conviction. The effects are plenty, but appropriate. Sharlto Copley plays the peasant-turned-royalty, Stefan, through his multiple transformations with surprising care. The three fairies (Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Leslie Manville) are predictable but charming. Maleficent is an artful display of storytelling that chooses not to waste a lot of your time. It is complete. It is pretty. It is one of Disney’s finer offerings. There. That’s my review…of the movie. So, let’s talk about Jolie.
Jolie has had a love / hate / WTF relationship with audiences since she appeared in 1995’s Hackers. One may think that it was her beauty that got her noticed (since I don’t think anyone knew immediately of her relationship with her father, Jon Voight), but calling her “beautiful” sort of simplifies her looks and ignores her talent. Anyone who is deemed so beautiful for so long that people start to say “Meh, she’s not so pretty” is gifted with more than beauty…she’s “interesting.” Hackers showed her rebellious nature, through and through, something that would prove to be a trait outside of performing.
Next, she made critics do a double take in the bio-pic, Gia, playing the model, Gia Maria Convangi. It was obvious this woman was not afraid of vulnerability or kicking a little tush. She had a fearless quality that all good actors have; they can handle sexuality yet are not scared of getting downright ugly. Her career continued to climb at one of the most neutral paces I’ve ever been aware of. It was not overnight success, but that climb made her career last longer until she could become a true A-lister. From Bone Collector with Denzel Washington to the action flick, Gone in Sixty Seconds, her early work history was average box-office successes.
A lot of people trashed the video-game based movie, Laura Croft, where she played the globetrotting title character. However, what flaws there were belonged on the shoulders of the writers. Jolie fit every quality that the video game vixen had been built on; tough while civilized and sexy but cultured. Audiences, whether they wanted to admit it or not, knew that she was a star by this point. She could be a stunner, generate a believable tear, and snap a man’s neck all in one scene.
Yes, she had some “ploppers” like Taking Lives…a far-fetched suspense film that was too set in reality to ask audiences to believe the ending. She did a handful of dramas that got most of its attention from her being in them (or at least involved in some way) than the movie’s themselves.
There is always a return to the blockbusters as she looks for Helen Mirren’s The Queen moment. She does them pretty darn well. Mr & Mrs. Smith was a well written relationship romp that symbolized a relationship’s struggles through roundhouse kicks and ak-47’s. Wanted and Salt gave us more of the oh-so-in-control characters that she makes entertaining to watch.
What do I really want from her, then? Maleficent is another character with biting wit and the most delicious of wicked smiles. There was this one moment, though; a moment she is robbed of something very precious to her. It was only a glimpse. At that moment, I saw what I wanted more of; raw Jolie. I want her to have an unpolished character, like The Bride in Tarantino’s Kill Bill. She can handle being the messy remains at the end of a movie, where the “pretty” has been replaced with the wears and tears of a struggle.
Until then, I have no problem indulging in movies like Maleficent.