One of Disney’s more memorable villains gets to tell her side of the story in MALEFICENT (PG: Walt Disney).
Angelina Jolie stars as the title character, the protector of the fairy realm, who is betrayed by her childhood sweetheart, Stefan (Sharlto Copley), and takes her revenge by cursing his first-born child, Aurora. But Maleficent finds her resolve weakening as she plays surrogate mother to the girl. This adds a further touch of foreboding as that fateful appointment with a spinning wheel draws closer.
Jolie, clad in black with chiselled cheekbones, devilish horns and blood-red lipstick, is both sinister and alluring and brings wit to the scenes with her shape-shifting henchman (Sam Riley).
Some of the other characters, like Copley’s vengeful king and Elle Fanning’s vacuous Aurora, are less convincing, and the slapstick comic relief of Imelda Staunton and her fairy helpers falls flat.
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At least the visual effects and Lord Of The Rings-style battles provide some magical moments.
> Action thriller 3 DAYS TO KILL (12: Entertainment One) looks like an attempt to do for Kevin Costner what Taken did for Liam Neeson, but it doesn’t have the same pace and energy. A veteran CIA agent (Costner) diagnosed with a fatal disease reluctantly accepts one last assignment in Paris in order to get his hands on an experimental new drug that might save his life.
His mission is complicated by the fact that he’s also trying to reconnect with his surly teenage daughter, who happens to be living in France.
The performances can’t be faulted and Costner is charismatic as an ageing super-spy, while Amber Heard steals the show as his kinky handler.
The problem is that the action sequences are interrupted by tedious comedy sequences and overly sentimental scenes where Costner tries to bond with his family.
> Brenton Thwaites, who had a supporting role in Maleficent, is one of the leading players in the creepy OCULUS (15: Warner).
He and Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan are disturbed orphan siblings who try to destroy the antique-looking glass they are convinced unleashed a malignant force that killed their parents a decade earlier.
Named after its first recorded owner, the Lasser Glass infects the minds of those it mirrors, leading to paranoia, distorted visions and possession. All the genre staples are mined, but the action is taut and the floating camerawork extracts maximum spookiness.
> SEVE (PG: Entertainment In Video), the biopic of golfer Severiano Ballesteros, cleverly blends interviews and archive footage with dramatised reconstructions.
In this remarkable rags-to-riches tale, a poor Spanish farmer’s son becomes one of the world’s greatest players.
Released three years after his death at the age of 54, the story of the five-time Major winner and Ryder Cup captain will mainly appeal to golf fans and admirers of sublime sporting talent. The portrayal of Seve’s early years will broaden the appeal, although clocking in at two hours, it’s a bit of a long haul.
Nick Faldo, Gary Player and Tiger Woods are among those contributing to the film.