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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 February 2016
VIDEO:

Maleficent arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. This transfer is a spellbinding affair, producing a clean and magnificent image that is bounding with vibrant brilliance and crisply defined details in every shot. There is striking image clarity. The picture is quite cinematic and epic in scale with costumes and kingdom backgrounds richly coloured with vivid and saturated hues. Fleshtones are naturally hued. Resolution is excellent with fine detail revealed throughout in facial features, hair clothing and object texture. It is unfortunate that a 3D version is not readily available (as import over $45). I could imagine the picture will even more “magnificent.” I guess Disney wants us to double dip next year. (5/5)

AUDIO:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is quite dynamic with excellent fidelity. James Newton Howard’s orchestral score is wonderful. The soundstage is wide and deep. There is also very deep bass. Dialogue and narration is nicely balanced. This is a very immersive experience. By the way, it was Angelina Jolie who picked Lana Del Rey herself to be the one to sing a version of Sleeping Beauty (1959)'s "Once Upon a Dream" as the main theme for the film. (5/5)

MOVIE:

Maleficent is a re-imagined wickedly fun live-action twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty fantasy adventure starring Angelina Jolie as the villain. Considerable praise must be given to Angelina Jolie, who also spearheaded the project and is credited as co-producer. Ms. Jolie’s unique beauty is enough to carry the distinctive look of Maleficent, but her nuanced performance and subtle facial expressions - even under all that the visage-altering make-up - really evoke sympathy from the audience. (4/5)

TRIVIA:

1 Maleficent has an estimated budge of $108 million, but has a worldwide gross of $758 million (No. 3 in 2014, behind Transformers Age of Extinction: $1,087 million and Guardians of Galaxy: $770 million). Disney should be very happy with 2 top grossing films in 2013 (Frozen) and 2014 (Maleficent).
2 Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, who portrays Princess Aurora as a young girl, is the daughter of Angelina Jolie.
3 As a co-producer, Angelina Jolie insisted that the dialogue in Aurora's christening sequence has to be written word-by-word and based exactly from the original animated film because she feels that it was the main core and setup of the entire film. But the new story does differ from the original scene because Maleficent originally cursed Aurora with death after pricking her finger. Then, the final fairy uses her gift to change the spell from death to slumber. There's also a blink-and-miss cameo (one second shot) of Jolie's two children, Pax and Zahara in that sequence as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Maleficent deserves credit for not perverting its fairy tale innocence. Unlike most modern takes on children’s stories, cynicism and vulgarity do not creep into the picture. The soul of the movie belongs to Angelina Jolie, who is simply “magnificent.” The many visual effects certainly enchant and create a sense of wonder such as Maleficent’s majestic wings are at rest or in motion. They also looked “magnificent” on my 12 foot wide screen with anamorphic lens. I find this movie very enjoyable, and I admit the word “magnificent” is overused. But this is a magnificent movie, and is highly recommended.
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What an amazing film and a nice twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty story - well the events before Sleeping Beauty. Angelina Jolie is magnificent as Maleficent and I loved her "little beasty" saying and the interaction between Maleficent and Aurora. The parts were Aurora is little and Maleficent is meant to hate the little girl are pure film genius and I didn't know until the other day that the baby Aurora is actually played by Angelina's own daughter as all the other babies were scared of her in her Maleficent make-up and costume. An absolutely fantastic film and if you are wavering about watching it then I would highly recommend it. Disney have made yet another superb film that had me laughing out loud at some parts and totally engrossed in the whole film.

The 3D version is fantastic and I can thoroughly recommend it and so would definitely say it is worth getting the 3D version as opposed to the normal 2D version if you are able to. Not only do you have the normal 3D effect whereby the characters on the screen stand out within the screen against the background but there are lots of points within the film whereby the 'true out of the screen and halfway across your living room 3D effects' come into play and the picture quality is superb.

A truly brilliant and cleverly thought out film that is one of the best films I have bought and watched this year.
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"Let us tell an old story anew and see how well you know it." This is the opening line of "Maleficent", a re-imagining of the story of "Sleeping Beauty", as presented from the standpoint of the wicked fairy who casts the sleeping spell. The hex is one made by a woman scorned and, according to this revisionist fairy tale, soon regretted. So many times fairy tales do not transfer to the big screen without becoming Disney-esque. "Maleficent" aspires to be about how, no matter how evil someone might seem, there is something deeply hurt and human inside. Our sympathies lie with the benevolent-turned-malevolent heroine, and, as the story progresses, more surprises and twists are to be found.

Maleficent constantly has to fight against her own bitterness and disappointment, being physically and emotionally crippled. Betrayed by her loved one, and the assault of having her wings cut-off, transform her from a villain into a heroine, and turn the film into a revenge story with a feminist undertone. Every subsequent action Maleficent takes is driven by the trauma of this betrayal. As an evil creature and a woman with magical powers, she could easily wreak havoc on humankind. However, misunderstood by humans, she seeks isolation and has contact with only one person, who knows her as the brave and kind soul she really is.

Admittedly, director Robert Stromberg had quite a challenge on his hands, transforming a character into someone contemporary audiences could identify with. Reinventing a fairytale, in an attempt to bring fresh life to a well-worn fable is a demanding task. There is so much to look at in the movie, and for the most part Stromberg maintains a balance between the spectacle and the intimacy of the story. As far as the technical part and the visual effects is concerned, the level of craft on display is exquisite, with the art directors, costume designers and effects technicians exhibiting an impressive consistency throughout the movie. The most extraordinary visual effect, though, is Jolie herself.

James Newton Howard's score is a stirring, impassioned musical treat that enhances the film. Accordingly, my favourite girl Lana Del Rey's gothy version of "Once upon a dream", is a perfect fit for this movie, with her mesmerising vocals sound haunting as well as soothing. Dark and unpredictable, entertaining and bold, exciting and moving, "Maleficent" turns out to be a superb re-telling of a classic story. If Charlize Theron's Queen Ravenna from "Snow White and the Huntsman" was the ultimate Evil Queen, Jolie's Maleficent triumphs. It totally feels as if she was born to play this character. Evil can be immensely enjoyable and here is the proof. "Maleficent" is truly magnificent.

UPDATE (3/11): I got the standard blu-ray edition, as well as the Zavvi exclusive steelbook blu-ray (photo 2), which contains the 3D and 2D versions of the film. The latter is a stunning-looking package, with a glossy black finish to it, and some beautiful embossed details on the front cover (ie. the title, and particularly Maleficent's eyes). Back cover is plain, which is the only letdown. The inside artwork is equally gorgeous. The audio and visuals are fantastic, the film is one of those that when presented as on here, one can marvel at the exceptional work that was done technically. Some of the features may vary slightly from one edition to another (ie. regular blu-ray edition does not iclude all the subtitles listed below), depending on where you choose to purchase from. The Zavvi steelbook is, also, region free, so that is another reason to go for it, especially if you are a collector or wish to own this special edition, while stock lasts. Here are the contents analytically:

List of contents:

Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian: DTS Digital Surround 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Dannish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish (on both 3D and 2D discs)
Total run time: 129' (feature film - 97', bonus features - 32')

Extra features:
From Fairy Tale To Feature Film - Reimagining Maleficent for a new generation (8:13)
Building An Epic Battle - Creating the clash between Maleficent and King Henry's forces (5:48)
Classic Couture - Examine Maleficent's spellbinding head wraps and jewelry (1:35)
Maleficent Revealed - Explore the layers of extraordinary special effects (4:45)
Aurora: Becoming A Beauty - Elle Fanning reveals her lifelong love of Disney's original animated classic (4:53)
Deleted scenes (6:40)
-Stefan In King's chamber
-Pixies Seek Asylum
-Pixie Idiots
-Diaval Asks About The Curse
-Suitor
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 November 2015
As far as I'm concerned, the best recent fantasy movie based on a classic fairy tale is, by far, Walt Disney's magnificent production of 'Maleficent', which was released into the cinemas last year. If you think that you already know the old saga of 'Sleeping Beauty', then this excellent movie delivers a few interesting spins that will be new to you, least of all, by focusing on the villain of piece we are able discover Maleficent's background, and how she came to be the fiercely bitter and vengeful character we are all familiar with.

In this untold story, we discover the betrayal she suffered at the hands of the future human king, when she was a young fairy, and the one-day ruler of the beautiful moors of which she still resides at today. We are able to learn how this cruel act of treachery turned the character's heart to stone for the rest of her life, and resulted in her bestowing that evil curse on her arch enemy's new-born infant daughter Aurora, ensuring that the little girl wouldn't awaken from her sleep when she pricks her finger on the needle of a spinning wheel on the eve of her sixteenth birthday.

Beautifully portrayed by the stunning Angelina Jolie, I found myself, ironically sympathising with the so-called villain of our picture, as we see her gradually won over by the grace, beauty, and kindness of the innocent young princess (played by Elle Fanning), and in the aftermath of the curse, appears to have a complete, genuine change of heart over what she did to her all those years ago.

Very loosely based on the tale of 'Sleeping Beauty', this visual masterpiece has enough charm, laugh-out-louds moments, and stunning special effects to delight the children, but enough sophistication and drama to also become a firm favourite with the parents as well. 'Maleficent' is a treat for the entire family to enjoy, and has a storyline which kept me hooked to the screen, and enchanted me. If you do not wish to see the conflicts between the 1959 animated masterpiece and the recent fantasy adaption, try to think of it as a standalone movie.

Like most of the modern day Disney DVD releases, the film is shamefully presented on a bland, grey coloured disc, and contains no special features whatsoever. This is a three star release, but a five star movie for certain.
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on 3 August 2015
Listen again to an old story told anew.

We all know that Walt Disney's quintessential classic 'Sleeping Beauty' was released in 1959 and it was there that we first met the villain: the evil fairy called Maleficent.

But was she truly evil? If ever any of you have seen the West End musical 'Wicked' this film is ever so slightly similar to that in the sense that it tells Malificent's backstory before she met Aurora. But the real twist is that she ends up living with Maleficent whereas the Prince was just never there like in the original.

There once was the queen of the fairies and her name was Maleficent. Disney's live action films really do the studio justice. I hope there's a sequel.
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I wasn’t sure what to expect with this film and how Angelina Jolie would do playing Maleficent; if I would be able to see past her stardom and appreciate the character but you absolutely do. Angelina’s performance is astonishingly good and Maleficent is a feast for the eyes as well as having a cracking story line too, based very loosely on the story of sleeping beauty.

This really is a great family film; appealing to adults and children alike; a hard feat but seemingly easily achieved with this film.

Whilst the theme can be some dark and desperate at times there are plenty of humorous moments and again Angelina Jolie is absolutely perfect in this role. A great watch, I would go as far as to say one of the best family films we own. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 June 2014
Both me and my 13 years old daughter we liked this film A LOT, even if there are some weaker spots (and I still like the original Disney film more). Below, more of my impressions, with some very limited SPOILERS.

As the title indicates, this film focuses on Maleficent rather than on Sleeping Beauty and tells her story from the very beginning, when she was still a kid and later a teen-ager (in those scenes she is played successively by 13 years old Isobelle Molloy and 17 years old Ella Purnell). Therefore, in the first minute of the film we learn that once upon a time there were two kingdoms, one human and one fairy, neither of them very big and also that they were neighbours, but hardly ever friends.

From the very beginning it is clear that there is some history and quite a lot of bad blood between those two realms, as humans are extremely unwelcome in the fairy kingdom - and also that there is an old territorial dispute, because there are ruins of a powerful human fortress, without question brought down with great violence, on what is presently fairy territory...

The human kingdom is ruled by old King Henry. On another hand the fairy country doesn't have a real ruler, but even as a child Maleficent seems to be considered as a dominant figure of authority, mostly (I believe) because she is an exceptionally powerful spell-caster. This is not said in the film, but the fact that she was born with those splendid horns (she is the only one with such a proud display) may have predestined her to a role of fairies leader - if ever there is need for such a person... She is also without question the fastest flyer amongst the fairies, thanks to her powerful magic wings.

But one day, when she is still a child, Maleficent meets for the first time in her life a human - a young boy named Stefan, who sneaked into fairy territory to try to steal anything precious he can find. Caught by fairy warriors and warned strongly by Maleficent to never try to do it again, he is then led to the border and released. But this is not the end of the whole thing, because as all females (no matter what age) Maleficent is impossibly curious - and therefore she will want to meet this peculiar human creature again. And again. And again. And this is when this film really begins, and I will not say more about it...

As I already said, I liked this film a lot. Angelina Jolie is not only drop dead gorgeous in this movie but she also plays very well. Her character is quite complicated and all the time evolving: she is successively a naïve young girl, a maiden surprised by first love, a fierce war leader, a woman HORRIBLY betrayed and wronged, a terrifying vengeance demon - and then, to ours and her own enormous surprise, something yet completely different and unexpected...

The scenario is surprisingly solid and strong, mostly coherent and rather logical. The twisted game played with the original Disney version of Sleeping Beauty is a very successful thing and some developments are quite moving and even more beautiful than in the cartoon. There is also some good humour, quite a lot of which will be especially appealing to those viewers who have little children themselves...)))

Even if it doesn't affect my five stars rating, there are however some weaker points. Elle Fanning was a HORRIBLE casting choice for Aurora - not only she is very average looking (at best) but she also CANNOT ACT! AT ALL! She is even more horrible as Aurora than Kristen Stewart was as Sleeping Beauty - and that is saying a lot! The three fairy godmothers, who in this film are COMPLETELY clueless and TERMINALLY incompetent, were supposed to be here a comic element, but as they are totally annoying rather than funny, that part of film mostly doesn't work. Finally, I believe that the very final solution of long and terrible feud between Stefan and Maleficent went much too far and was a mistake - but I cannot be specific, because it would reveal too much. You will have to see this film and judge by yourself.

As there is always a lesson in every fairy tale, here are the main lessons I learned from this film:

- any guy who had a shot at spending his life making love to a permanently horny Angelina Jolie and exchanged it against being a mere king, deserves everything and anything bad that happens to him next...)))

- there seems to be a rule in the universe, that an attractive, intelligent and proud woman will ALWAYS fall for the one guy who is THE WORST @hole around...)))

- if you are the leader of a medieval kingdom, with an army of knights and archers, having for neighbour a country which can deploy advanced biological war robots and genetically engineered walking trees with air support, DO NOT go to war

- instead of waging war against such a foe, become a pacifist, sign a friendship treaty, develop trade and cultural relations, encourage intermarriage and especially send your young people to study in the neighbouring country; invade and destroy your neighbour only once you have successfully acquired and mastered his superior technology...

- even if you are a powerful sorceress, be VERY careful when somebody offers you a drink, especially if this is a sweet speaking guy whom you didn't see like in years and he just came to visit you out of blue, arriving from a hostile country...

- if you really had to steal something once to achieve your lifelong dream, returning it to the rightful owner when you don't need it anymore can be a good idea - restitution may not always be enough, but it usually is a good beginning to solve any kind of conflict

- when designing a really bad@ss malware, complete with Dolby 5.0 Stereo, cadaver-green lights and other SFX, remember to ALWAYS build-in a backdoor override - if you don't, believe me, you will totally live to regret it...)))

- you can be a Prince and a Heir to the Royal Throne and yet, if you cannot perform in a young lady's bedroom to her satisfaction, you will be violently thrown out by fairies - without any regards to your rank and with extreme prejudice to your dignity...)))

- you can be a very average looking chick completely unable to act and yet, if your big sister is an A-list Hollywood actress you can still secure good parts in major super productions...)))

Bottom line, I liked this film A LOT and I am totally going to buy the DVD once it is available, to be able to watch it again with my daughter. Because it is visually splendid, I may even go for the Blu-ray. Try to see it in the theatres, as long as it still plays. ENJOY!
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on 10 September 2015
I want to start by saying I love this film, as does my 5year old. It's a great explanation of how and why Maleficent is the wicked queen we all know from the original sleeping beauty films.
I was a bit dubious about this film to begin with as I had heard it was quite dark and some of the scenes had hidden meanings, and although it is dark in places, aren't most Disney films. I think Bambi, in particular, has stayed with me for life!!
Angelina Jolie is just superb and she does a very impressive English accent. Young Aurora is played by her real life daughter which is so cute, especially when she hugs her mummy.
I love how she calls Aurora little beastie, but you can see the little princess melting Maleficent's cold heart, it really does have touching moments.
I really liked seeing how Maleficent can't help but bond with the princess and Angelina really does an excellent job of showing these emotions of how she should detest this little beastie, but she can't stay away.
My 5 year old loves this film, we have watched it many times together and never tire of it.
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on 23 August 2015
All of us who grew up with Disney movies remember the tried and trusted formula of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy falls out with girl, then they finally meet up and live happily ever after. You could apply the same process to Cliff Richard movies: you get what it says on the tin. I am rather amused by some of the one star reviewers who complain that Disney's 1959 Once Upon A Dream version has been ruined for them. They only need to go right back to the original story to see that it was a very dark tale indeed, and there was no Prince Charming, only an opportunist. But I digress, and we need to focus on this fabulous reworking of Sleeping Beauty. Although I was a tad disappointed Angelina didn't manage to work Brad into this tale somehow: the crow perhaps? Never mind, as this was a beautiful movie which shows that things are not always as they seem, but there is hope for all who seek it.
I'm not sure how old a child would need to be to not be frightened by some of the battle scenes. It does get quite scary, and some children get freaked out more quickly than others. Perhaps it is best to start off with the 1959 version, move on to Jungle Book, the Aristocats, Mary Poppins even, then perhaps phase in Maleficent once they are ready for Hogwarts. Recommended.
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I think we all know the story. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) slips Sleeping Beauty (Elle Fanning) a roofie and allows a Prince (Brenton Thwaites) to kiss on her while she is asleep and still keep it a family film. Add a spinning wheel, a castle, and a fire breathing dragon and you got the basic story.

What Disney did was to retell the classic in such a magnificent way as to make you never want to watch the old one again. Maleficent is our horned fairy who is basically good. Both her and plot develop levels of complexity that is not the norm for children's film. There is a role reversal as good and evil blur lines until the point we root for those we had desired to fail in the original tale.

Jolie was great in a role seemingly made for her. Elle Fanning would not have been my first choice, but she was sufficient, perhaps over shadowed by Jolie. My favorite line was when Jolie said, "I don't want children." Sure you don't, Angelina.

There is an underlying theme that perhaps our enemies aren't so evil once we see the world through their eyes. This is a kids film that adults will love. Indeed, I felt like I was eight years old munching on my popcorn, chasing it with Metamucil.

The language is G rated. The PG comes from battle scenes and some dark scenes. Comparable to "Narnia" or "Alice in Wonderland."
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