Summer movie season is officially underway and one of my most anticipated films this year was Disney’s Maleficent. I’ve been following the news, the trailers and the clips from the film’s announcement all the way until I got to see it last Sunday. Surely with all the build-up, I was bound to be disappointed. How was it? Magnificent. As River Song would say, “Spoilers”.
Recap: This is a re-telling of Disney’s animated film Sleeping Beauty, it is not exactly a remake. The story is an almost complete re-imagining so if you don’t go in the theatre with an open mind, then prepare to be disappointed. Basically in this version, a young Maleficent lives in a kingdom next to that of Aurora’s. She has the biggest wings of all the fairies and protects her home. Their kingdom has little to no contact with the human kingdom but she meets and befriends a young Stefan. They fall in love but Stefan is blinded by ambition and seizes the opportunity to ascend the throne by taking Maleficent’s wings and telling the old king he killed the fairy. Maleficent vows revenge, curses Aurora, just like in the original movie. But then while watching the child grow under the care of the three fairies, Maleficent starts to care for her as well, very much unlike the animated film. She becomes a mother figure in Aurora’s life, who is then horrified to find out that she is cursed by the one she trusts the most. Aurora turns sixteen and the curse takes effect, despite Maleficent trying to revoke it. She even personally brings a bewildered Prince Phillip to the princess’ bedroom so the fairies can force him to kiss her, which does nothing. Ultimately, it’s Maleficent’ kiss who wakes the princess from endless sleep. However, before they can both return to their forest kingdom, King Stefan tries to kill Maleficent but fails when Aurora frees Maleficent’s wings and the king falls to his death. In the end, Aurora unites the two kingdoms and she lives with Maleficent, presumably happily ever after.
At first, I was skeptical about the casting choice of Elle Fanning as the young Princess Aurora, but her performance won me over. She was wide-eyed and sweet without being overly annoying. I also really enjoyed the movie’s tone, which alternated between funny and dramatic. The special effects were great as always. I especially liked the first battle scene between Maleficent and the old king’s army. Maleficent’s sidekick Diaval was also a cool character. I wanted more scenes featuring him. I also really like the actor who plays King Stefan, even though his character is pretty one-dimensional.
The whole “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” plot line was very unoriginal, but I get why they went with it. I just wish there was more to her vengeance than a man’s betrayal. The fairies were also something else that could’ve been better. I loved the fairies from the animated movie. They were so funny but they also had some depth to their characters. The fairies in this movie were purely for comic relief. I barely even remember their names. And let’s be honest, those CGI faces were kind of creepy. You have the great Imelda Staunton and all you have her doing is bickering with the other two fairies? Really?
I loved, loved, loved Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. She is the best thing about this movie. Her wings are awesome and it just really made me wish for a Hawkman/Hawkgirl film, haha. Even if you didn’t like the story, you’d still agree that she gave a pretty awesome performance. She was vulnerable yet kicked ass. She was scary yet funny. The only thing I would’ve wanted is for her to be more evil but then the movie would’ve been different. I liked the twist of her kiss being the one of true love. People have and will compare it to Frozen, sure, but how is that a bad thing? There should be more and more movies promoting sisterhood and female empowerment, while ridiculing the notion of “Prince Charming” and “love at first sight”.
All these things aside, as a Disney movie, this one is fun and entertaining. There was a children’s birthday party present when I saw it and the kids were laughing and enthralled the entire time. I was very glad that I didn’t let the less-than-stellar reviews cloud my judgement to go see it on the big screen. I am definitely a fan and can’t wait for the Blu-ray to come out! Happy Hump Day, everyone.