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Maleficent Review Critics


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Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Village Voice Amy Nicholson

    With more actual grrrl power, Maleficent would be a bold redo. Instead, it's a beautiful snooze, a story that hints at the darkness underneath our fairy tales and tarnishes the idea of true love without quite daring to say what's really on its mind: that even the best of us might not live happily ever after.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    This icon of witchcraft can't save a production that's suffocatingly elaborate yet insufficiently bewitching.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Variety Andrew Barker

    Uncertain of tone, and bearing visible scarring from what one imagines were multiple rewrites, the film fails to probe the psychology of its subject or set up a satisfying alternate history, but it sure is nice to look at for 97 minutes.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It fails to live up to its early promise, mostly because of an uneven tone and murky character development

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    This is almost entirely Angelina Jolie's show...this is a performance that goes from point A to point B without seeming rote, or ho-hum.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Calling Maleficent a "modern-day classic," as some have asserted, is overreaching. The production is engaging and appealing but only the passage of time will determine whether it holds in the memory with the strength of its animated predecessor.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Sheri Linden

    A few bumpy patches notwithstanding, the new feature is an exquisitely designed, emotionally absorbing work of dark enchantment.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Visually beautiful but dark retelling of classic fairytale.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Maleficent is Disney's retelling of its iconic animated princess movie Sleeping Beauty from the villain's point of view. Audiences will learn the reasons why the "evil fairy" (played by Angelina Jolie) is so bitter and resentful at not being invited to baby Aurora's welcoming party that she curses the infant princess. Far more so than the animated original (which itself is often too scary for younger kids in the preschool age bracket), this live-action version can get quite dark and may frighten younger kids, particularly during violent action sequences between the kingdom and the magical creatures of the moors. Characters die (or look dead) or are injured, and Maleficient is an intimidating figure. It's also very upsetting when her wings are cut off. But the movie's overall message -- about redemption and love -- is positive, and giving Maleficient more depth and context will help kids sympathize with her. As long as your kids can handle the battles, they'll probably enjoy this new take on a classic Disney villain.

  • Families can talk about why villains/antiheroes are often just as compelling as heroes. Were you surprised at Maleficent's back story? Did it make her more sympathetic?
  • How does the movie make you rethink the story of Sleeping Beauty? What is the film trying to say about villains? Are people all good or all evil?
  • How is the idea of love explored in the movie? Is love only the romantic kind, or are there are other kinds of "true love"?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true2

    Educational value: Kids will learn the value of looking at a situation from more than one perspective, as well as the important lesson that people are often more than what they seem.

  • message true1

    Messages: The movie's over-arching message is to not allow greed and hatred to blind you from love and generosity. If Maleficent had let go of her anger at being jilted, she wouldn't have cursed Aurora, and if Stefan hadn't been so greedy and hurtful, the kingdom and the moors could have lived in peace. Aurora's journey is about staying in the light, even when surrounded by darkness.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Aurora is a sweet, kind girl who's curious and loves the creatures of the moors, just like young Maleficent, who was brave and protective of her fellow fairies and creatures. Maleficent is both a villain and a hero, because she had reasons to be bitter and unkind and is eventually remorseful for the hateful way she cursed baby Aurora. Against all odds, Maleficent is able to love again when she sees what a smart and generous young woman Aurora has become. Diaval is a loyal and truth-telling servant/helper to Maleficent.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and scariness: The movie's tone becomes quite dark, and there are some genuinely jump-worthy/scary scenes -- like when Maleficent realizes that her wings have been cut off (a brutal scene that's reminiscent of sexual assault in some ways), as well as the various battles between the kingdom and the creatures of the moors, including the climactic fight between Maleficent, the king's guards, and the king himself. The three fairies can be physical with each other -- pulling one another's hair, hitting, and slapping -- but it's usually portrayed in a humorous manner. People die on and off camera, including one key character who plunges to his death.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: A couple of kisses, including a romantic kiss between Aurora and a prince.

  • language false0

    Language: Rare uses of insult language like "imbecile" and "idiot."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: While there are no product placements in the movie, there are promotional tie-ins to merchandise including apparel, toys, accessories, and games.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable