Evil Movie Review: Maleficent
Hello again to all you mischievous, diabolical geeks out there. It took me awhile, but I finally got around to watching Disney’s most recent take on Maleficent, so today I can bring you my blackened heart’s review. The truth is I don’t remember much of the original animated Disney classic Sleeping Beauty. I had watched it when I was a child, but it was an old movie from 1959, and quite frankly the only thing I remember about it was the dragon. Yup, that gorgeous green and purple dragon (my favorite colors!) who was Maleficent herself in that story was the only part worth remembering, but I was saddened that this dragon was killed so that the sleeping princess could be awoke with true love’s kiss. Well, I heard that this story was told from Maleficent’s perspective, and with the promise of a dragon I was lured in. Warning- spoilers to follow.
The other interesting things about this movie when compared to the original Sleeping Beauty story is: 1. It was not animated (though did use a lot of CGI) and 2. It starred Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. The beginning of this story starts with Maleficent’s background: she is a powerful and beautiful young fairy in the Moors, a forest full of magic and creatures. It really is a fairy tale, though the CGI of the Moors was a little much for me at times. There are tree creatures, tiny fairies and cherubs, water creatures, and winged beasts, with Maleficent being the most intelligent and powerful of all the winged creatures. The Moors lies right next to a human kingdom that is fearful of magic, but when a young peasant boy named Stefan ends up trespassing in to the Moors Maleficent befriends him rather than punish or banish him from the woods.
It is a quick introduction, but we see Maleficient fall in love with this boy, who also admires her and her ability to fly. But as he becomes an adult he joins the king’s court and becomes quite ambitious. By this point Maleficent is also an adult Angelina Jolie, and she helps lead the creatures of the forest in defending their land whenever humans from the nearby kingdom come to burn it. Yet she does so righteously and rarely if ever kills. She is an admirable and strong individual.
Naturally the king knows that she must die for him to succeed, so he announces that whoever kills her will be named his successor since he has no sons to pass the crown on to. Stefan sees his opportunity, and using his relationship with Maleficent he spends the night with her in the Moors, only to drug her and cut off her wings. I personally think that was worse than killing her since her wings were what gave her power and her freedom. But he didn’t have it in himself to kill her, so bringing back the wings to the king as prove of her death seemed preferable.
Of course he might have killed her, so Stefan did have some compassion, though he probably regretted it in the end. Since Maleficent knows it was he who stole her wings, and she enters a dark place being grounded so abruptly. She is determined to get her revenge, so when she hears the new King Stefan has given birth to a little girl she travels to the castle bent on revenge. She curses the child so that on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel needle and then fall in to a death like sleep forever.
So this is when King Stefan really loses it. He sends his daughter Aurora off in to the wilderness to live with three pixies so that she will be safe from spinning wheels and Maleficent. Of course the wilderness is where Maleficent feels most at home, so she spends her time with her raven side kick (who she changes in to a human or other animals from time to time) watching Aurora grow in to a young girl. She even secretly saves the live of the girl a couple times, mainly justifying this to herself since she wants to see her revenge plan play out and cause Stefan as much pain as she can.
All in all, you really can’t blame Maleficent. I think I would turn in to an evil witch too if someone cut off my wings and betrayed me. But Maleficent still has some good in her, and she starts to see a likeness in the little girl to her younger self. Aurora is fascinated with the wild creatures in the forest, and befriends many of them in the same way Maleficent had when she was young. Eventually Aurora sees Maleficent spying on her, and she is not scared, just curious. Maleficent starts to bring the girl back to The Moors with her and the excitement and wonder Aurora had was more than Maleficent and Stefan experienced together. She hates to admit it, but Maleficent falls in love with the girl as if she were her own child.
And so the dreaded 16th birthday arrives, and despite her efforts Maleficent can’t find a way to break her powerful curse. Interestingly, Aurora runs in to Price Phillip in the woods as well. She likes him, but unlike in the animated film she doesn’t fall in love at first sight. I mean, come on!?!? How often does that happen? This version is a little more realistic.
When Aurora finds her way back to the castle as if drawn by an unavoidable urge, she does indeed prick her finger on a spinning wheel and falls in to a death like sleep. But when Maleficent tries to send Prince Phillip in to kiss her and break the curse she is saddened (though not surprised) it doesn’t work. (I mean really, again, can someone find true love after a 10 minute conversation in the forest?). What happens next makes so much sense though! Maleficent regrets her curse and feels horrible, so over Aurora’s sleeping figure she confesses her sins and tells her how she will never be able to live with her actions. She then kisses Aurora on the forehead and Voila! The girl wakes up! Like I said, Maleficent and her had a mother-daughter relationship stronger than most, and that kiss was true love through and through.
Aurora, Maleficent, and her side kick Diaval then head off to escape the castle and live happily ever after in The Moors. Yet Stefan has known this day might be coming, so the real villain, the evil king, tries to trap Maleficent in iron chains, capturing and torturing her. In a beautiful scene Aurora releases Maleficent’s chained up wings and they fly back to her to rescue her, so that Maleficent can escape with the group of them. (The scene also kicked ass as there was a dragon, though not Maleficent herself, but her side kick Diaval who she changed in to a dragon). Stefan tries one to many times to kill her again, but ends up falling to his death. This leaves Aurora the heir to the throne and she becomes queen of both The Moors and the human world so that magical creatures and humans can live in peace.
I was wondering how Disney was going to make this story centered around Maleficent a happy ending, but they sure did it. Even though several decades ago it was standard for the evil characters in movies to be vile through and through, I like this version a lot better. It just seemed so much more realistic, showing the different emotions and qualities of all the characters whether or not they were labeled good or bad. And while her make cup and rigid jaw line made it a little difficult for Angelina Jolie to show lots of emotions, I think she did a good job in the role. She definitely looked the part.
The CGI, as with most movies, was a little too fake- that being said it is much easier to believe that sort of CGI when you are watching a fantasy as opposed to something that is supposed to be happening in present day. And seeing Maleficent get her wings back was wonderful. She really embraced the joy of being able to fly.
Was it the best fantasy movie I’ve ever seen? No, probably not even the best one I’ve seen by Disney. But I enjoyed it, and I would recommend it if you want to see a classic tale told from a perspective that sheds a whole new light on it.
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Posted on June 29, 2015, in Evil Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews and tagged Angelina Jolie, Aurora, Disney, dragon, Evil Movie Reviews, fantasy, happy ending, Maleficent, raven, Sleeping Beauty. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.