I thought 'Maleficent' was terrible, at least for the first 45 minutes or so. Basically if you've seen 'Avatar', you've seen 'Maleficent' - on one level. There's the mundane world, "our" world, which is militaristic, masculine, and fundamentally evil; and the romantic, magical "other" world, which is peaceful, feminine, and wholly good. I don't think this kind of exoticism makes for good film, or for a good outlook on life.
But then ...
[Mild Spoilers (click to open)]while the film remained firmly rooted in this drivel, it still somehow managed to rise above it. The development of the growing relationship between Maleficent and Aurora came as a pleasing surprise and took the film in an entirely different direction. I felt that the fairy queen came across as a genuinely complex and interesting character. The suspense - as in any real drama - comes not from wondering what will *happen* to the characters next, but from wondering what they will *do* next. The moment that sticks in my mind is when Aurora asks Maleficent a certain question about her past, and Maleficent hesitates, and responds evasively - rather than burdening the child with the knowledge of what happened.
There's a lot of what they call 'fantasy violence' in the film but it's mostly pretty tame and boring. What's really harrowing, though, is the implied violence (isn't it always?) in a pivotal scene with Stefan and Maleficent. Very rough stuff.
I will admit that I enjoyed the red, green, and blue Pixies more than any adult should. [An animator's joke? RGB pixels = pixies?] Angelina Jolie is splendid, even with her ridonculous prosthetic cheekbones, and Elle Fanning as Aurora is not hard on the eyes.
But what really captured me about the film was the difficult and wonderful relationship between its two principal characters. For me, this more than outweighed the film's many shortcomings, and I came away feeling that I'd seen a very fine movie. If you haven't seen 'Maleficent', I recommend it.