Admittedly, Stromberg had quite a challenge on his hands, transforming a character who goes around cursing babies into someone audiences could identify with and root for. Its endeavours are partly rewarded, but the question looms as to who this re-imagining is intended for. The generation that grew up on the 1959 classic may find this new take kindles feelings of nostalgia, but children of today could find the reinvention of iconic moments - such as the infamous christening scene - lost on them. That said, Jolie clearly relishes in the role, referring to a cherubim-cheeked Aurora (played, incidentally, by Jolie's daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt) as a "beastie" and cackling in a manner hauntingly similar to Eleanor Audley's terrifying performance as Maleficent in the original. Jolie hops through subtle yet impressive iterations of the classic costume (some coming worryingly close to something you might find in a dominatrix's S&M dungeon), always followed by her loyal servant, the shape-shifting Diaval (a pallid Sam Riley).
It's in the darker moments of the film, especially those that tone down the CGI, that the film shines, holding focus on Jolie's impassioned performance. Literally floating around are a trio of irksome fairies played by Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple, whose skittish chit-chat irritates more than entertains. Elle Fanning's turn as Aurora is handled well, although as a flaxen-haired princess enchanted with the world around her, she has little scope for her abilities to play with (the less said about Brenton Thwaites' Prince Phillip the better). Yet despite its pitfalls, Maleficent entertains because of Jolie, who holds the wavering threads of Stromberg's spinning wheel together with aplomb. There's certainly enough style and charm to hold audience's attention, vastly improving on the lacklustre Alice in Wonderland (2010).