Full disclosure: I have not yet seen Maleficent. But I plan to. And not a single negative review of the film is going to change my mind. Why? Because these reviews seem to miss the overall point. I only need to know two things.
1) is Jolie great as Maleficent? By all accounts, yes.
2) Is the film worth seeing just for Jolie? By all accounts, yes.
There are reviews on Angelina Jolie’s new film Maleficent that are worth reading. Check out Amy Nicholson’s piece in the LA Weekly, which examines the film from a refreshingly feminist angle. But too many of them, with a scant few exceptions, seem to miss the point completely. They are writing reviews, it seems, as though the movie was aimed at them. It wasn’t. Nowhere near. It’s aimed at young girls who are underrepresented in the tentpole nonsense that has overtaken American cinema. That a whole film was built around Jolie, that she is on every poster, that she is OPENING this movie – this is extremely rare in Hollywood and mark my words, she’s being tested.
Now, of course, in typical Hollywood fashion, they give the film over to a first time director, a risk they would never take with a female director. NEVER. EVER. EVER. How much worse could the film have gotten where critics are concerned if a woman was at the wheel of this thing?
Yes, the film was written by a woman then, it seems, kind of ruined by the male director behind the camera but does this mean the five white guys who run Hollywood are ever going to think, huh, that didn’t work out so well. Could that have been because it was directed by a man? Written by a woman, about a woman, starring an icon and yet, move over honey, let me drive.
So it is only adding insult to injury that Christopher Orr at the Atlantic would write this piece that seems to put the blame squarely on Angelina Jolie – she can’t save the film but worse, why are her movies getting worse? He writes:
What was Jolie’s last genuinely memorable role? The Tourist? Salt? Changeling? She sauntered through her effortless brand of sexual cool in Mr. & Mrs. Smith as well as in supporting roles in Wanted, Beowulf, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. And of course she voices a tiger in the Kung Fu Panda movies. For an indisputably A-list actress, it adds up to an awful lot of B-list roles. Indeed, unlike fellow cinematic icons such as her quasi-spouse Brad Pitt and his pal George Clooney, Jolie seems almost to have transcended her film career altogether. Acting often looks as though it’s an occasional sideline to her day job, the no doubt taxing business of being Angelina Jolie.