Maleficent: Movie Review

The much anticipated Maleficent is finally here, in a multiplex near you! Check out Sarah’s review of the fleshed-out, epic live action version of Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty, featuring Elle Fanning as the beautiful princess and Angelina Jolie as the iconic villain Maleficent.

By: Sarah Diamondswirls

We are all well aware of the iconic animated figure; weird ‘horn’ cowl, long black and purple dress and cape, magic ‘staff’ with a crow sitting on it. That sounds like Maleficent, the ‘wicked witch’ character who curses the heroine Sleeping Beauty to her long, long nap. Well, Disney has brought one of its most frightful and at the same time terrific villains to vibrant live action and Angelina Jolie, with those amazing cheek-bones, is cast perfectly for the role!

Maleficent casts a spell

Maleficent casts a spell

 

Happy Youth

This new re-creation of the The Sleeping Beauty tale focuses on a future fairy kingdom (called The Moors) queen Maleficent (later played by Angelina Jolie) as she happily grows up in a care-free life sharing her adventures with magical wood creatures and wandering around using her magnificent and powerful wings. When she is still a teenager, Maleficent meets a human peasant boy named Stefan who came to the Moors from the nearby human kingdom to steal a jewel but both fall for each other and Stefan keeps coming back to visit her. Finally, when both are sixteen, and she is totally in love with him, he ends their relationship with what he calls “True Love’s kiss”.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) with servant Diaval (Sam Riley)

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) with servant Diaval (Sam Riley)

Raging Ambition and Betrayal

When the dying human king, whom Maleficent and her forest friends have beaten in a battle, challenges anyone who can kill her with the reward of being the heir to the throne, Stefan’s position makes him the ideal person to do so. He already is capable of getting close to her! Stefan (now played by Sharlto Copley), betrays Maleficent in a really very terrible manner, leaving her ampty and full of a desire for an ultimate revenge.

King Stefan (Sharlto Copley)

King Stefan (Sharlto Copley)

 

The Curse

The now King Stefan’s little daughter Princess Aurora is born. After many lonely and angry years, Maleficent finally gets the chance to take her revenge. She comes to court to curse the little child to prick her finger on a spinning wheel spindle when she is sixteen and fall into a deep eternal sleep that can only be broken by “True Love’s kiss”. Maleficent is sure the girl would never wake up because, after all, according to her,there is no such thing as a kiss from a true love. You know what happened when she believed there was!

Maleficent about to bestow her curse

Maleficent about to bestow her curse

Protecting Aurora

To protect his beloved and only daughter, Stefan turns Aurora over to three inexperienced pixies (played with silly charm by Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Leslie Manville) who live with her in the woods, barely even knowing how to take care of her. Seeing the child possibly of never reaching her sixteenth birthday because of the pixies’ carelesssness, Maleficent turns in secretly to “help”. She also has fun teasing the pixies and summons a young man whom she had rescued from being beaten (Diaval played by Sam Riley) and turns him into a crow so that he can spy for her.

Aurora meets the glow fairies

Aurora meets the glow fairies

Pixies assigned to protect Aurora

Pixies assigned to protect Aurora

 

Teenaged Curse Time

A 15-year-old Aurora wanders into The Moors, meets a handsome prince named Phillip (Brenton Thwaites) who is passing through the woods and is charmed by him. Aurora isn’t the least afraid of Maleficent and adopts her as her “fairy Godmother”. Already charmed against her will by the younger Aurora (played by Angelina and Brad Pitt’s real young daughter Vivienne), Maleficent finds that this teen princess is much like herself at that age, relating to the denizens of the forest with warm and fuzzy glee. When Aurora learns about the curse entitled upon her and that it was her new “Godmother” who spelled it, she runs back to her real home to finally meet her dad at the castle.

Maleficent meets the young Aurora

Maleficent meets the young Aurora

Reversal?

Having gradually been drawn to Aurora and seeing her kind and affable self, Maleficent tries to reverse the curse but in vain. On her sixteenth birthday, Aurora does prick her finger on the spindle and falls into the eternal deep sleep. Maleficent’s efforts won’t make the curse go away under any condition. She brings Prince Phillip to the castle at Aurora’s bedside to try that True Love’s kiss thing, despite not believing in it herself. Guess what? That doesn’t work either.

Aurora on her 16th birthday

Aurora on her 16th birthday

Outcome?

Will the unfortunate and ashamed Maleficent somehow manage to wake Aurora before Stefan gets to know that she is in his castle and kills her? How and by whom will Aurora finally wake up? Will Maleficent ever be able to return The Moors? If not, then what would come out of her?

Sleeping Aurora with the Prince

Sleeping Aurora with the Prince

Wrapping Up

Two words basically sum up the thumbs up quotient of this film: Angelina Jolie! She is amazing, totally marvellous, succeeds at bring an iconic animated character to rich, multi-angled life and acts almost flawlessly. You can barely your eyes off her super expressive, sharp-angled face (make-up by Rick Baker). Her eyes alone express a thousand volumes. The real success of the film is in fleshing out this iconic one-note character to give her a reason for her behavior. The character has many different layers to her, and Jolie should probably get an Oscar nomination for bringing her to life.

Maleficent asks for silence

Maleficent asks for silence

Unfortunately, the rest of the tale doesn’t fare so well. Elle Fanning is undoubtedly ideal to play the young, innocent and graceful princess but has little else to do. Sharlto Copley does an admirable job of portraying the power-mad and cruel king but the reason for this ambition of his isn’t really explained. The three pixies (are they pixies or fairies? They were fairies in the animated version of the tale) who reluctantly care for Aurora are so aloof, cold and relatively uncaring that their attempts at playing the comic relief simply fall flat. Despite all the hard efforts, they aren’t much delight to look at. Sam Riley is sympathetic as Maleficent’s goofy sidekick and is made to change into various animals at her will but it seems that he is there only for the sake of the crow that the animated Maleficent travelled with and be a possible distraction, that is, could he be the true love’s kiss?

Aurora in the woods seeking her fairy Godmother

Aurora in the woods seeking her fairy Godmother

The most mind-boggling story turn comes near the end, at the climax. It can’t be discussed without spoiling some of the film’s most important moments, but it involves Maleficent’s wings very suddenly “getting” a power of their own and “coming” to save the day. Just stop for a moment and think- is that even logical? Yes, magic is not all about logic but still. Just bad story-telling, you see.

The young, winged Maleficent

The young, winged Maleficent

The look of the film in production design, costuming, cinematography (even though all 3-D seems a bit “dark” with all those neutral colours) is stunning, creative, matchless and beautiful. On the strength of Angelina Jolie’s almost flawless performance alone, despite story flaws, I have to give the movie a ‘very good’ rate. Without her, it would be merely be ‘good’, or perhaps even less.

Maleficent Movie Rating: 4

Maleficent movie poster

Maleficent movie poster

Maleficent is in theaters now!

 

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5 responses to this post.

  1. The plot sounds really interesting, I want to watch it now! Thanks!

    Reply

  2. Awesome review, Sarah! I was out of town this past weekend, but I plan on seeing the movie this weekend! So excited 😀

    Reply

  3. Posted by Unknown on June 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Rose, I have some very important business to discuss with you.

    Reply

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