"Let us tell an old tale anew, and let us see how well you know it," intones Maleficent (a waxen Angelina Jolie) at the outset of this botched Sleeping Beauty tweak-job. It's fine to tell old tales anew, and it's fine to mold them to some new purpose — say, a narrative of maternal repentance. But it's not fine to do it so artlessly. Perhaps the definitive example comes at the film's midpoint, when Maleficent, after cursing the infant Aurora in dramatic fashion, visits her at home and says, "I hate you." You'll swear it's being played for laughs, but if that's the case, then whither the drama? Wither, indeed. There are holes throughout — in character, in plot, in action - nearly all of them stuffed full of overworked, lumpen CGI. Poor Elle Fanning — every girl wants to be a princess, but anyone would get tired from all that rapturous smiling. Sleepy, even. (2014) — Matthew Lickona
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