1. Maleficent (Disney, 3,948 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images): The one thing I take away most from the trailer is how beautiful Angelina Jolie looks in it. I don’t know if it’s first time director Robert Stromberg’s skill with the camera (while this is his first directorial effort, he has won Oscars for his art design) or just Jolie’s natural beauty, but she is captivating, horns and all.
This, of course, is Disney’s attempt to parlay their rich history of bringing fairy tales to the big screen in animated form into live actions success. Since they had a big success with Alice in Wonderland, they decided to tackle Sleeping Beauty next.
This time, we focus on the evil Maleficent, a woodland fairy who takes a turn to the bad after a betrayal in her life. She takes out her anger on the innocent Aurora, but soon comes to realize that the girl might not have been the best target for her rage.
It should be interesting to see if this does well at the box office. After all, it is a film with a female lead, which Hollywood hates even more than digital pirates. But there is a lot going for it too. We shall see.
2. A Million Way to Die in the West (Universal, 3,148 Theaters, 116 Minutes, Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material): Unlike some members of the FilmBuffOnline staff, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane. I have liked some of what I’ve seen of the Family Guy, I thought that Ted was a good film, but nothing really cries out as being riotous, appointment viewing.
But I am definitely in the minority when it comes to that. The surprise success of Ted is proof of that. So it is natural to expect big things from this film.
One thing I will give MacFarlane credit for is his ability to get stars you wouldn’t think he could get for his films. I mean, Liam Neeson? Yeah, he’s done things that might seem beneath him before. But Oscar-winner Charlize Theron? And she’s not the only Oscar winner in the cast.
This time, MacFarlane puts himself in front of the camera, and not behind a cartoon or stuffed bear. He plays a cowardly rancher who must learn the ways of the gun when an evil gunslinger comes to town looking for his missing wife.