Angelina Jolie was perfect as Maleficent. Rick Baker's work on her face and horns? Also perfect. There is an awful lot to love about this movie.
So, yes! I loved this film, and had a great time seeing it with Sandra. Having an actual date at a movie will do a lot to boost it over the Threshold of Awesome, but I don't think Maleficent needed the boost.
The film did have a little bit of a demographic problem, though. Kids are going to want to see it, and I can see how parts of the movie were built to appeal to them. The narration, in particular, was something neither Sandra nor I felt was necessary, but for kids who can't yet grasp the nuances of great acting the additional layer of storytelling is bound to be helpful. And the battle scenes? Lots of clobbering and flinging, but no actual stabbing, no blood splatter, no decapitation, and surprisingly very little death. One scene in particular shows a group of soldiers fighting giant, burning, magical thorns, and it's going badly enough for them that I pretty much assumed they were dead. Nope! The smoldering, sooty, and scraped up soldiers report back to the king, and that particular visual seems like it would feel right at home in a cartoon.
There were lots of kids, and I think a few tweens in the audience. Judging from the noise, they had a good time. What I'm saying here is that you shouldn't trust me to tell you whether a movie is going to work for your kids, because I AM FORTY-SIX.
The jaded old man in me wanted Maleficent to dig deeply into the horrors Maleficent wrought. Why stop with "kind of dark" when "grimdark" is just a few steps away? Well, because Disney. Minor disappointment aside, I'm totally okay with how Disney decided to play it, especially since they played so well against some of the tropes they've established over the last 75 years.
You might be wondering what the film does to the Sleeping Beauty canon. Well, wonder away, because I don't want to spoil anything... except to say that there were a couple of scenes where the sets were built to echo the animated feature's matte paintings, and I got a real thrill out of those. If watching Disney's Sleeping Beauty is something you're up for before seeing Maleficent, I'd encourage it. I wish I'd done it. There are probably a hundred such moments throughout the film, and I only caught two.
(Aside: "Fun I had at the movies" is not the same as "want to see again." Godzilla, Maleficent, and The Lego Movie are all films I'd be happy to see again, and I've already seen Godzilla twice. But before you ask, no, I'm not going to create a scale for re-watchability. I do have an actual job to do. Speaking of which, I need to post this, and then ink comics and sketch in copies of Book 10.)