Maleficent header

The live-action fairy tale craze continues this summer with Maleficent, an origin tale of sorts for one of Disney’s most famous villains. And although star Angelina Jolie laughs that it’s “really funny when people say you’d be obvious for a great villain,” these new Maleficent images prove that she is indeed the perfect choice to play the Mistress of All Evil.

Also featured in this latest batch is Aurora a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty, in two different forms: as a teenager played by Elle Fanning, and as a small child played by Jolie’s daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt. Check out all the photos plus a Maleficent EW cover after the jump.

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Maleficent (header)

In Disney’s original Sleeping Beauty, the divide between good and evil was a pretty clear-cut one. Aurora and her beloved Prince Phillip were good, kind people, and Maleficent was a horrible being who cursed an innocent baby to death. But the studio’s upcoming Maleficent suggests that the “real” story may not be so simplistic.

In the Robert Stromberg-directed film, Maleficent (played by Angelina Jolie) starts out every bit as pure and sweet as any Disney princess, until the destruction of her forest kingdom causes her to turn bitter and hateful. The newest promo contrasts the Mistress of All Evil we know from Sleeping Beauty against the complicated woman that Maleficent shows her to be. Watch it after the jump.

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The Boxtrolls

With only two completed feature films under its belt, Laika’s quickly proving itself to be one of the smartest, most creative animation studios working today. Coraline and ParaNorman were wonderful stop-motion pictures gentle enough for kids, but sharp enough for adults. Now an early teaser indicates that their third release, The Boxtrolls, is shaping up to be the same way.

Based on a book by Alan Snow, the film follows a community of monsters living under the streets of Cheesebridge. Despite their fearsome reputation among humans, the Boxtrolls are actually quite sweet, and are in fact raising abandoned orphan (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright, a.k.a. Bran from Game of Thrones) as one of their own. Watch the first brief teaser after the jump.

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Animation house Laika only has two completed features to its name, but thanks to the strength of those two outings (Coraline and ParaNorman), it’s already earned a reputation for unusually smart, creative family fare. Now they’re joining forces with Focus Features a third time for The Boxtrolls, an adaptation of Alan Snow‘s book Here Be Monsters!

Open Season co-director Anthony Stacchi and Coraline/ParaNorman story artist Graham Annable are teaming to direct, with an excellent voice cast that includes Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Game of Thrones). Hit the jump for more details.

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Not all child actors transition easily into more grown-up roles, but Elle Fanning looks like an exception to the rule. The younger Fanning sister has been acting since her toddler years, and in recent years has been a standout presence in films like Somewhere, Super 8, and We Bought a Zoo.

She tackles slightly more mature material in Sally Potter‘s coming-of-age tale Ginger & Rosa, playing a 17-year-old teen in ’60s London. Sincere and serious, Ginger throws herself into the fight for nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, she’s growing apart from her lifelong best friend Rosa (newcomer Alice Englert) and struggling with the breakdown of her own family. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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Writer/director Sally Potter takes her time, with only six features released after her 1983 debut, The Gold Diggers. Her 1992 movie Orlando helped push Tilda Swinton from the Derek Jarman coterie into the larger indie movie world, but Potter’s own films since have sat pretty firmly on the fringes of art house territory.

Will Ginger & Rosa (once called Bomb) be at all different? It does features prominent roles for recognizable actors like Christina Hendricks, Oliver Platt, Annette Bening, and a rapidly maturing Elle Fanning, who co-stars along with newcomer Alice Englert. And it has the sort of subject matter that audiences take to well: a girl’s coming of age as social mores evolve and political tensions rise.

If nothing else, the film looks gorgeous, so check out the trailer below. Read More »

First Image of Angelina Jolie as ‘Maleficent’

Disney’s live-action exploration of the hidden life of Sleeping Beauty villain Maleficent has been on the docket for some time, but it seemed like a film that might never get made. That changed when Angelina Jolie‘s schedule opened up and she committed to the role in a serious way. (Thank her kids for that commitment, or don’t, depending on how you feel about the film.) Robert Stromberg is directing, and the film is under way now at Pinewood studios in London. (They were setting up when I was there to see some of Skyfall, but we couldn’t catch a glimpse of anything special.)

Now we’ve got the first image of Jolie in costume as the evil character, and a few new details thanks to a press release from Disney. Read More »

We’ve already got the villainess (Angelina Jolie), the young princess (Elle Fanning), her father (Sharlto Copley), and the three fairies (Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, and Juno Temple), and now, at long last, we have the prince. Young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites has just boarded Robert Stromberg‘s Maleficent, a Sleeping Beauty retelling seen from the perspective of its big bad.

Thwaites is almost totally unknown in the U.S., though he’s a little more famous in his native country. He first broke out with a starring role in the Australian drama series SLiDE, and has since done a stint on the long-running soap Home and Away. (As have the likes of Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, and Chris Hemsworth before him.) He’ll next appear in the Lifetime Channel’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, but I’m betting that the Maleficent casting means this kid will be attracting some much higher-caliber projects soon. [Deadline]

After the jump, Olivia Wilde teams up with Spike Jonze.

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