I finally broke my movie drought to go out with AmazonMink to see Angelina Jolie emote on screen for an hour and a half. I was not disappointed. It was a good movie with plenty of character development (Maleficent's and King Stephan's). I do have some complaints, but they are minor.
I'm pleased to have gone.
Edited to add: I had a good conversation about the acting. One point that we discussed was that, with only minor adjustments to a few scenes, this entire movie could have been done without any dialog. The visual richness of the scenery and the precision of the actors really delivered the plot.
Since my last three live-theater experiences were greatly enhanced by a lower volume, I wore ear plugs to the theater as well to keep from suffering an over-loud barrage of fight scenes. I almost didn't need them. This movie was about character growth, not massive battles. Certainly there were two big fight scenes and a handful of medium skirmishes. But for the most part, I didn't suffer an oppression of noise throughout the show.
This movie was keenly centered on Jolie from beginning to end. And props go to the acting by both of the male leads. Sharlto Copley underplayed his role as King Stephan until his obsession turned to madness, at which point he started channeling Defoe (the scene where the queen is dying). Sam Riley likewise plays a strong
crow-man named Diaval, with a few well-timed lines and some appropriately crow-minded complaining.
Perhaps it is my recently-noticed maturity, or maybe it is just a refined perspective on life. Regardless, I am pleased to say that, while all of the characters were striking and attractive for their presentation in motion, none were conventionally gorgeous as still images. And I think I enjoyed the movie more for that change. It let me concentrate more on what the characters were saying and doing, and appreciate the characterizations and settings rather than watching them rely on prettiness to get through stilted lines or poor staging.
... In particular, I found Elle Fanning's princess Aurora to be puppy-cute rather than princess-pretty. (And I'm not a fan of brown eyebrows with blonde hair, even if it is natural.)
My biggest complaint about the movie's logic has to do with the erratic application of Maleficent's powers. If she can raise a forty-foot wall of thorns around an entire kingdom, couldn't she have just brought down the castle? Oh, right: plot requirements.
My second complaint was the timing of the movie's release due to a specific scene/plot device being a rerun. Rather like my twitchiness when the same scene played out in Mask of Zorro and Ever After, there is a short scene in Maleficent that looks a lot like another recent movie. (I don't want to name it here for spoiler issues.)
My third complaint was Elle Fanning. Sure, she was suffering from the fairy
gifts of loving fearless beauty, but she had a lot of trouble emoting beyond "happy" (ok, "delighted" is a better word) and "slightly concerned." And yes, her eyebrows really bothered me.