Striding around in her horns and black cloak, Angelina Jolie gives a spellbinding performance as the evil fairy in Disney’s re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty.

But of course she isn’t really evil at all, just misunderstood.

Although it comes across as Lord of the Rings lite in places – with a prologue that seems to last most of the movie and a fairytale kingdom not a million miles removed from Middle Earth – this is an ambitious and strikingly good-looking fable that finishes on a nicely empowering message for little girls about women doing it for themselves.

The action sequences are expertly handled – including a fire-breathing dragon – while incompetent fairies Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple supply some cute slapstick interludes. If Sharlto Copley’s bad king and Brenton Thwaites’ Prince Phillip never rise above the level of caricature, then Sam Riley’s shape-shifting crow and Elle Fanning’s sunny Aurora do well to register opposite Jolie’s magnificent star turn.