Magnificent: Angelina Jolie stars in Maleficent. *Photo supplied
Magnificent: Angelina Jolie stars in Maleficent. *Photo supplied

Speciality Theatre

Maleficent

***

Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley

Director: Robert Stromberg

Rated: PG

Showing: Fri 2:30 (2D), 6pm (3D); Sat 2:30 (2D), 6pm (3D), 9pm (2D); Sun 2:15 (3D), 4:35pm (3D), 7pm (2D); Mon-Thurs 2:30, 6pm (both in 2D)

Runtime: 97 minutes

Action/adventure/sci-fi.

It takes talent to walk around in a black leather-horned cap and not look silly. Angelina Jolie turns in a magnificent performance in Maleficent as the (now we are told) misunderstood villain of the Sleeping Beauty tale.

Despite the odd look — inspired by the drawings of Marc Davis for the 1959 animated Disney film — Jolie makes the character equally sinister and sweet.

This is still the story of Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), who is cursed at her christening by Maleficent to fall into a deep slumber. Only the kiss of her true love can wake her. But the story looks more at how Maleficent — with cheekbones sharp enough to cut diamonds — goes from star-crossed lover to vindictive party crasher.

Jolie rules this film with a powerful acting grace accented by director Robert Stromberg’s film style that shifts from film noir to children’s comedy without a flinch. There’s just not enough fleshing out of the story to support these elements.

The villain of this film is the script by Linda Woolverton, which promises Maleficent’s real story but delivers little more than a couple of variations on the original theme. Woolverton should have aggressively adapted the story to add something more original. The times when she does stretch, she falls so short it’s obvious this writing task exceeded her grasp.

Young children also might have trouble forgetting the movie, which has intense live-action scenes.

Fewer predictable battles and more original writing would have made Maleficent magnificent. If only the script had been as good as Jolie’s performance and the beautiful visuals from Stromberg, this would have been a summer sleeper beauty.  

Godzilla

****

Stars: Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston.

Director: Gareth Edwards.

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri 6:30pm, 9pm; Sat 2:30pm, 9:30pm; Sun 2pm, 7:30pm; Mon-Thurs 

8:30pm.

Runtime: 123 minutes

Action/adventure/sci-fi.

I came to the new Godzilla with monster-sized expectations, enhanced by cherished childhood memories of stunt men in dinosaur suits stomping Tokyo and a lifelong love of the fantastic fire-breathing nuclear dragon that, after 60 years, remains Japan’s most famous movie export.

The two pre-release trailers for director Gareth Edwards’ new $160 million Godzilla reboot stoked anticipation. Brilliantly edited, with glimpses of the monster kept to a minimum, the trailers conjured a sense of awe and dread, and promised to restore the fearsomeness and majesty of a monster conceived as the embodiment of Atomic Age wrath and introduced only nine years after the 1945 devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is in this context of hope — always a danger for a movie fan, more so a movie critic — that I report that the new Godzilla is a goodzilla, not a greatzilla.  

Blended

**

Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey

Director: Frank Coraci.

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri 2:30pm, 9:30pm; Sat 6:30pm; Sun 

4:45pm; Mon-Thurs 7pm.

Runtime: 117 minutes

Comedy.

If you can get through the first 20 minutes of Blended — a nonstop regurgitation of old jokes, annoying characters and unfunny ideas — don’t relax. It gets worse.

The film might not have been such a disappointment if Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore hadn’t had so much chemistry in 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer. None of the connections they made in those films are present here. 

Liberty Theatre

X-Men: Days of Future Past

****

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman.

Director: Bryan Singer

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri-Sat  2:30pm, 6pm, 9:30pm; Sun 1:30pm; Mon-Thurs 2:30pm, 6pm, 9:30pm.

Runtime: 131 minutes

Action, adventure, fantasy.

There are many superhuman feats on display in the latest installment in the X-Men saga, Days of Future Past.

Time travel. Saving the world from big, angry robots. A beautifully restored 1973 Buick Riviera.

But the nod for the most stunning accomplishment goes to director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg for taking what could have been a formulaic superhero sequel and giving it humour and life — while remaining true to the original X-Men message of the outcasts finding strength in their differences.

The plot mechanics grow increasingly creaky in the latter half, as the special effects grow bigger, but there’s still enough residual energy to keep it from lapsing into being, say, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, perhaps the most reviled of all the recent Marvel Comics related films.  As the film moves to its conclusion, there’s predictably less fun and more effects.  But, even here, the acting abilities of McAvoy, Fassbender, Stewart and McKellen can make even the most cliche comic-book dialogue pulse with importance. 

Neptune Theatre

Closed until June 6

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