When Disney goes all out to please squealing 7-year-old girls with a princess movie, they can really do it up in a fine, high style.
This one has everything anyone could want in a Disney princess movie — 21-year-old Elle Fanning plays the beautiful princess Aurora with a wonderful wide-eyed innocence. She even gets to ride a big white horse through the woods, tail, mane, and dress flowing picturesquely in the breeze. She gets to wear a succession of gorgeous gowns. She has a handsome young prince to woo her. And, OMG, the little fairy folk, the living mushrooms, pixies, and who knows what, all have bright lives, faces, and personalities as well.
If this sounds like the classic Disney formula to you, you have it exactly right. But the target audience will not care, nor should we. We should enjoy the skill with which this formula gets mixed into an intoxicating potion.
Harris Dickinson plays the handsome Prince Philip. He has an English accent, looks great, and has nearly nothing to do beyond that to advance the plot. We know the young actor best for his portray of J. Paul Getty III in the TV series “Trust.” In this Disney film, the prince exists only to support and adorn the princess.
Angelina Jolie inhabits the title role as the haughty Maleficent, a queen of the natural world. She has Michelle Pfeiffer as her opposite and opponent. She plays the queen of an adjoining kingdom. We get an undercurrent of industrial world bad, natural world good as background to the story. The pair of seasoned actresses bring years of experience to the screen.
Elle Fanning started her acting job filling in for her older sister when the story needed a flashback to a younger person. She has some 60 credits, which include roles in the 2014 “Maleficent,” “Super 8,” and “We Bought a Zoo.” Sam Riley (“Pride, Prejudice and Zombies”) and Chiwtel Ejiofr support the effort.
Teammate writers Noah Harpster and Micah Fitrzerman-Blue join well-tried, successful writer Linda Woolverton in preparing the script. We can say that the writers and the director made us a movie where magic holds more power than logic.
This PG-rated film will delight the young people, as intended. It runs for one hour and 18 minutes. The four sawblade film cost Disney $185 million to make, and the lavish attention to detail shows where the money went. This beautifully made film should achieve the grand success of its predecessor.
Go see it. Squeal with delirious delight.
Jolie won an Oscar for “Girl Interrupted” in 1999. Pfeiffer has three Oscar noms, and Ejiofr has one as well.