MOVIE REVIEW: “Maleficent”
OR, “Something’s wrong with Sleeping Beauty, you guys…”
So, three of us from TFP went to a Thursday evening showing of Disney’s newest live-action film, “Maleficent,” starring Angelina Jolie in the titular role.
It was… Rather different than perhaps we had been expecting.
Spoilers after the jump.
The story is narrated, as we find out in the end, by a much older and seemingly way more intelligent Aurora, opening with the story of Maleficent in her youth. Apparently, she is a winged fairy. And, although we see numerous other strange creatures in the Moores, where she lives behind a massive and enchanted thicket, we never see another fairy. One day, she meets a young orphaned boy who is stealing gems from a lake in her realm, and she agrees to let him go if he puts it back. The two become friends and, when they’re in their mid teens, he gives her what he tells her is “True Love’s Kiss.”
We, as the audience, are able to see this as bullshit, and he disappears from her life shortly thereafter. She shrugs it off, attributing his actions to the greed of mankind and growing up into the protector of the Moores. The young man, Stefan, finds himself in service to the king of the nearby human kingdom.
The greed of the king causes his death and the greed of Stefan gives him the opportunity to ascend to the throne. And all that he has to do is kill Maleficent. When faced with the chance, though, he can’t bring himself to do it, but instead drugs her and cuts off her wings to present to the king as proof that he’s killed her.
Maleficent… Does not take this well. Having perhaps her greatest gift taken from her, and by a man she loves and who claimed to love her in return, makes her bitter and angry, and it leads her to come and curse his child a short while later.
And, at least, it’s a way better excuse than just being mad about not being invited.
The three pixies, whose names they changed from Flora, Fauna, and Meriweather for whatever ridiculous reason, are the Uncle Toms of the magical community, there at the beck of the king, and are tasked with raising the girl so that Maleficent can’t find her.
Well… They’re spectacularly bad at it. The child is in danger of starvation from day one because these three broads can’t figure out how to feed it and Maleficent, who is there watching because they’re also bad at the whole hiding from Maleficent thing, figures that she had better feed this child herself or it’ll never even get to be old enough for her curse to come to fruition.
And so begins a story wherein Maleficent is always there to torment the pixies and finds herself saving Aurora. Eventually, she finds herself growing fond of the girl, who seeks her out and calls her her Fairy Godmother, knowing that the older woman has always been there for her in the shadows, keeping her happy and safe. Maleficent tries to reverse her curse, but she cannot, and all this time, the king is growing more and more paranoid and greedy. Knowing that there may be another confrontation on his daughter’s birthday, he has all of the iron workers constructing armour and spikes and weapons to fight Maleficent off (because we learn early on in the movie that, since she is a fairy, iron will burn her).
It all culminates into a battle on Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, when she does indeed prick her finger on the needle of a spinning wheel (because she’s brought back to the castle one day too soon and she finds herself drawn to a massive room filled floor to ceiling with old, rusted, and damaged spinning wheels because Hoarders wasn’t a show yet at that point.
Ryoga Prince Philip is brought in to break the curse, but it doesn’t work. Maleficent reminds her companion, a crow she turned into a man and whose name I have subsequently forgotten, that there is no such thing as “True Love,” so the curse can never be reversed. She apologizes to Sleeping Beauty and gives her a kiss on the forehead… Which wakes her right on up.
Which is great!
But, wait… This seems a little bit familiar… Almost as if we’ve seen the same concept a scant six months ago…
Now, I appreciate the goal of trying to stem the whole falling in love with a guy you literally just met that day in the woods of all places thing, but we can do that without switching from romantic to platonic love. We can maybe throw in some self sufficiency, or loopholes, or dare I day logic. If we switch one cliche to create a new one, then I think that it cheapens the effect, better message for the chillins or no.
A fight ensues, Aurora sees her creepily preserved and still animated wings and returns them to Maleficent, and the king dies a la Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. Aurora goes to live with her in the Moores, the pixies are even welcomed back, and Aurora is crowned queen, even of the Moores, who have never had a human ruler. Prince Philip shows up again but no clear courtship is established, and the credits roll.
…And overall it’s not so great of a movie.
Of all of the actors, Jolie is easily the best, followed by crow boy, the pink pixie, and the latter king (who, to be fair, is over-acting for much of the duration of this film). Actually, each actor is fine but they seem to lack proper direction. There’s very little depth. On the other hand, Jolie’s Maleficent is so nuanced that it’s really entertaining to watch all of her subtle ticks and expressions, her understated comebacks, and then her roars of rage and wails of anguish.
Her performance is excellent.
The art direction is diverse and really quite lovely.
And that’s where the compliments end.
But there was so much that either didn’t make sense, or that just came way the heck out of left field, that it made the movie really hard to get into. To stay in the story.
And for this movie to get a grade above a C+.
Average entertainment value, below average story, and pretty good acting all around, but not the masterpiece that some of the Fangirls had been expecting.
A decent way to spend two hours, but hardly worth gushing over.
It’ll be interesting to see what twist Disney puts on their live-action adaptation of “Cinderella.”
Posted on June 1, 2014, in 2014 Movies, Disney Movies, Disney Universe, Movie Reviews and tagged angelina jolie, aurora, crow, disney, dragon, fairy, live action, Maleficent, pixies, prince philip, sleeping beauty. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.