I was never too certain about the whole idea of pulling a Wicked with the big bad from Sleeping Beauty, but I actually thought this worked better than expected.
They've managed to do a decent job of reframing core elements of the original Disney film in a way which they remain recognisable, but are no longer as two dimensional. For example, the clearly evil animal-people that served as Maleficent's henchman in the original film are now reimagined as bizarre fairytale creatures, with some genuinely excellent creature design. The world that allows them to create is beautiful and genuinely enchanting, so well done there. I'm also a big fan of what they've done with the crow, making him so much more of an interesting character.
Of course, in the original Maleficent is undeniably evil, so they did need to change some aspects. For the most part, these differences are framed as simply two sides of the same coin; two different ways to tell the story. But given the ending, which sees the two nations united, it isn't immediately clear who would be telling the incorrect, original version, which is now revealed to be propaganda. My personal theory is that the original movie is the version told by the "good" fairies, who in this telling are clearly incompetent and selfish idiots. That would go some way as to explain why they feature so heavily in the original film, despite rarely making beneficial decisions, and has the added benefit of placing them as the sole witnesses to a lot of the main divergences in the plot. Of course they'd make themselves the heroes of the bits they invented 😉
The one main area which is harder to explain is the final battle. You'd think a huge dragon being slain by the prince would be a fairly clear difference, but I'll let them off the hook. After all, they've successfully reinvented Beauty as someone with at least a little independence, making her at least a touch aspirational for modern audiences. I also approved of the change of fairy wishes to include what amounts to a permanent state of bliss, as it helps explain her ridiculously positive nature despite living in poverty and war for most of the movie.
On the acting front, no one gets any awards. It's fine throughout, but ultimately they're all playing ridiculous caricatures instead of actual characters, so the hamminess is almost needed. I did enjoy seeing Robin from Titans turn up as Prince Charming though 😁
Overall, then, I enjoyed this as a retelling. It's got some flaws and ultimately is still little above a kids film, but I think it does improve on the original and gives us some fantastically unique creatures as it does so, which means I'm happy to forgive some other bits.