Maleficent ★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

The concept here is strong, and I completely understand what Jolie saw in the material: The chance to tell a love story about the power of adoptive motherhood. The brief hints at that theme, along with Jolie herself in all her glowering, pointy-cheekboned glory, provide a few glimmers of life. But most of the execution is very poor, from its underdeveloped fairy-tale world (where two warring kingdoms are populated about about five people in total, plus a handful of CGI critters) to its ham-fisted dialogue to the supporting performances. (Sharlto Copley's Scottish accent is so bad, his dialect coach should asked to have his name taken off the film and been credited as "Alan Smithee.") I'm not really sure who this movie is for; it's too dumb for grown-ups and too dark for little kids, particularly since Maleficent's origin is basically a Disneyfied PG-version of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. That sort of makes it more interesting and less successful all at once.

There's definitely something compelling about looking at a classic villain in a new light (Maleficent doesn't hate mankind, she hates men, and with good reason), but Jolie's character swings so wildly and so hurriedly from innocent to scoundrel and back that there's not time to really explore her psyche or motivations. And as incredible as Jolie looks in her horned crown, she doesn't do a whole lot except wander through CGI woods and glower at people from a distance. At least 40% of this movie is trudging and staring.