Images courtesy of Disney
NOTE: This review focuses on the special features accompanying the Blu-ray release of Maleficent. A more comprehensive review of the film itself can be found here.
Disney has done its classic animated titles proud when reissuing them on Blu-ray by packaging top quality transfers with excellent special features. In contrast their live-action output has often been short-changed.
Maleficent is a case in point. Although popular with audiences, this entertaining attempt to flesh out the evil fairy from Disney's 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty comes to HD disc with a collection of extras that falls far short of magical. A few deleted scenes and five featurettes ranging in length from around 90 seconds to a little over eight minutes are all there is to reveal the work that went in to putting the film on screen.
It's not that there isn't a lot to talk about, either. The titular character has a fascinating history. Yet, this is only touched on in the longest featurette, "From Fairy Tale to Feature Film," which focuses on how the actors developed their characters and the original story was fleshed out into a script.
Similarly, "Building an Epic Battle" largely glosses over the challenges involved in staging one of the movie's most spectacular action sequences. It does include some revealing behind-the-scenes footage but most of the interviews involve filmmakers patting each other on the back. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, and the praise is deserved, but it's far more interesting when it's accompanied by insight into some of the hurdles that had to be overcome.
Probably the most instructive featurette is "Maleficent Revealed," which is basically a series of shots from the film with and without CGI. It serves to illustrate how incredible the work of today's FX artists is. Unfortunately, the short running time means it's all show and no tell.
Maleficent is an enjoyable family film with enough spectacle to make the extra expense of the superb HD transfer worthwhile. Without even an audio commentary to entrance us, however, the Blu-ray release is cursed by a collection of extras that is nowhere near as 'Magnificent' as its sleeve suggests.
The Maleficent Blu-ray release reviewed here is the United States version and comes in a Combo-Pack that includes the film on 2D HD Blu-ray and SD DVD as well as digital formats for Disney Movies Anywhere and iTunes.