Angelina Jolie in Maleficent.

Angelina Jolie plays the title character—the infamous horned villain from Sleeping Beauty—in Maleficent.

There’s a little bit of revisionist history here, with Maleficent now portrayed as more of a fallen angel and less of a straight-up baddie. The whole thing almost works, because Jolie is damned good here—especuially when the script allows her to bellow curses and act devilish. It gets a little sleepy at times when it deals with, well, Sleeping Beauty (Elle Fanning), the young woman who stands to have a very bad 16th birthday.

Jolie has a creepy getup that I thought would bother me, but I kind of liked looking at after a while. It’s the world surrounding her that I found a bit pedestrian. Director Robert Stromberg worked as a production designer on films like Alice in Wonderland, Avatar and Oz the Great and Powerful. I didn’t like any of those movies, and in the end, I don’t really like this one. His visual worlds put me off, for some reason, and have a choppy pop-up book feel to them.

On the plus side, Maleficent is better than Alice and Oz, and perhaps even Avatar. On the negative side, it’s still not all that good.

Maleficent is playing at theaters across the valley.