May 2023


Angelina Jolie

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

DIRECTOR: Joachim Ronning

CAST: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Robert Lindsay, David Gyasi, Warwick Davis


2014’s Maleficent, a “reimagining” of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale which turned the story on its head by casting Maleficent more as a wronged tragic anti-heroine than cackling villainess, was a lightweight and mediocre fantasy adventure, but it did well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel. Nevertheless, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will likely appeal to the same audience who enjoyed the first movie and likewise not convert those who were unimpressed. Despite a somewhat “bigger” story and expanded world-building, it doesn’t take things appreciably further than its modestly successful predecessor.

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Unbroken (2014)

UNBROKEN [Movie Review]

DIRECTOR: Angelina Jolie

CAST: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock, Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, Miyavi


Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s second time in the director’s chair (following 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey), is a good-but-not-great docudrama adapted from the same-named non-fiction book by Lauren Hillenbrand (author of the less harrowing but similarly earnest and “inspiring true story” Seabiscuit) telling in competent but somewhat unremarkable fashion the true story of Olympic athlete and WWII POW Louis Zamperini.

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Maleficent (2014)

maleficentDIRECTOR: Robert Stromberg

CAST: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Brenton Thwaites


Maleficent does for its title character (the villain of Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty) what Wicked did for The Wicked Witch of the West, providing a “re-imagining” in which Maleficent is not a one-dimensional cackling villainess reveling in her own evilness, but a tragic, mistreated anti-heroine.  Actually, Maleficent goes even further than Wicked (arguably too far), playing fast and loose with the Sleeping Beauty story and turning it on its head.  That’s not a problem, but Maleficent has a feel of watered-down, generic fantasy adventure that contains enough visual wonder to entertain children and be tolerable for parents, but like another recent re-imagining of a Disney classic, Snow White and the Huntsmandoesn’t live up to its own potential. Continue reading

Salt (2010)

DIRECTOR: Phillip Noyce


Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, August Diehl, Andre Braugher, Olek Krupa


Equal parts The Bourne Identity and The Manchurian Candidate, Salt is a dizzyingly-paced whiz-bang action thriller that contains enough spectacular stunts to dazzle in the immediate present, and enough twists and turns to avoid making the viewer feel like checking their brain at the door is a prerequisite to their enjoyment.  In fact, Salt requires a level of the viewer’s attention. Continue reading

Alexander (2004)


DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone


Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, John Kavanagh, Brian Blessed


Best-known for controversial, politically-charged fare like Natural Born Killers, JFK, and Nixon, Oliver Stone’s latest venture, the epically-mounted but narratively disjointed historical drama Alexander, is more cinematically straightforward than his previous efforts but unfortunately lacks the focus and drive to maintain consistent interest throughout its three-hour running time. Continue reading