Maleficent

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An elderly woman narrates and tells the story of Maleficent, a young and very powerful fairy living in the Moors, a magical realm bordering a human kingdom. As a young girl she meets a human peasant boy named Stefan. As they grow older they begin to fall in love. However, Stefan’s wishes take him away to the castle, and his love for Maleficent is overshadowed by his ambition to become king. They begin to drift apart until Stefan stops coming to see her on the border between the two kingdoms. After Maleficent defeats the king in battle, the king becomes fatally ill and offers his crown to whoever kills Maleficent. Stefan visits her at night, drugs her, and burns off her wings with iron (a lethal substance to faries) and presents them to the king as proof she was slain. Maleficent awakens, and heartbroken by Stefan’s betrayal and the loss of her wings, she names herself queen of the Moors, which becomes a dark and oppressive kingdom. Maleficent saves the life of a raven named Diaval by turning him into a human. He swears to serve her for life as her one companion and confidant, constantly being shape-shifted from man to bird and other animals as she needs him.

Some time later, Maleficent sends Diaval to the castle to update their status, to which he returns to inform her that the king (now married to the former king’s daughter Leila) has had a baby girl named Aurora. As revenge for Stefan’s betrayal, Maleficent arrives uninvited and curses the baby with a sleeping curse to take effect on her sixteenth birthday after pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. However, in an act of mercy and irony, she gives the curse an antidote in true love’s kiss, which she believes does not exist. Stefan, paranoid of Maleficent and her vengeance against him, orders all the spinning wheels in the kingdom to be burned and locked away, and he sends Aurora off to live with three pixies hidden deep in the woods until the day after her sixteenth birthday.

Despite her initial dislike for Aurora, Maleficent begins caring for her from afar when the neglectful pixies fail to care for her. When Aurora is 15, she finally comes in contact with Maleficent, believing her to be her “fairy godmother” as she recalled being watched over by her all her life. Maleficent allows Aurora to spend more time in the faerie kingdom. Realizing she has grown fond of the princess, Maleficent attempts to revoke the curse, but fails to do so as she made it so that it could not be changed by any power, not even her own. When Aurora meets Prince Phillip, the two are immediately attracted to one another. He tells her he is on his way to King Stefan’s castle, but promises to return to see her. On the day before her sixteenth birthday, Aurora expresses her wish to live with Maleficent in her kingdom, which Maleficent allows in the hope that doing so will prevent the curse. However, the pixies let slip truth about Aurora’s parentage and Maleficent’s curse. Heartbroken by the truth, Aurora runs from Maleficent and the pixies back to her father.

Stefan locks Aurora away for safe keeping after a quick and heartless reunion. However, the curse takes hold, drawing Aurora to a spinning wheel (magically assembled by her curse) in the dungeon and hypnotizing her to touch it. Having failed to protect the princess, Maleficent sneaks into the castle with Phillip, hoping his brief meeting with Aurora in the woods will be enough to break the curse. Phillip’s kiss fails, however, and Maleficent apologizes to the princess, swearing no harm will come to her while she sleeps, and kisses her forehead. Aurora awakens, as Maleficent’s “true love” for Aurora is that of a mother to her daughter, and reaffirms her wish to live with her in the faerie kingdom. As they attempt to flee the castle, Maleficent is captured by an iron net that falls from the ceiling from an ambush of angry guards. The guards and Stefan, in iron armor and using iron weapons, beat and torture a disoriented Maleficent. Using her last power, Maleficent transforms Diaval into a dragon and while they initially hold the upper ground, they soon begin to lose as the guards restrain Diaval. Maleficent is nearly killed before Aurora frees Maleficent’s stolen wings from their glass case. With her wings restored, Maleficent overpowers Stefan and he eventually falls to his death. Aurora is later named queen of both the humans and faeries by Maleficent, forever unifying the two kingdoms, with Phillip at her side. The narrator then reveals her identity as Aurora, affirming that the kingdoms had been united not by a hero or a villain, but by someone who was both — Maleficent

REVIEW:

Arguably the most popular villain in the world of Disney is Maleficent, from Sleeping Beauty, although I personally rank her behind Jafar, from Aladdin. Continuing with the trend of reminaging fairy tales as darker stories and giving us the tale we all know, but with a little more back story on the villain, as made popular by the Broadway musical, Wicked, Maleficent aims to humanize the evil fairy, but does it succeed?

What is this about?

Turning the classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” on its head, this fantasy drama retells the story from the point of view of evil godmother Maleficent. While defending her homeland from invaders, the young Maleficent is dealt a cruel blow by fate.

What did I like?

Casting. When you look at the animated version of Maleficent and think of anyone that could possibly bring her to life, the only logical person is Angelina Jolie. The only thing that had to be changed was some added angular cheekbones. I joked with a friend a little while ago that had this been made around the time of Wanted, they may not have even had to do that. Casting Jolie was not only good to bring people into the theater, but she also brought some real life to this character and seemed to genuinely be having fun with it, something that I don’t believe we’ve seen her do since the Tomb Raider movies, or at least Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

History. When you reimagine a film, especially a true classic such as Sleeping Beauty, you better be sure to throw in some nods to the original. In some places, this film not only nods to the source material, but it recreates certain scenes, most notably the grand entrance of Maleficent where she curses Aurora. I was watching this and in the back of my mind remembering the animated version. Save for a couple of changes is wordplay, different hand gestures, and taking out the death pat of the curse, it was the exact same scene! How awesome is that?!?

Beauty. Being a Disney film about one of their most popular characters, you know this wasn’t going to be some half-hearted schlock that they just spit out because they could. Obvious care was taken in crafting the visual effects. It almost felt like you were watching a Guillermo del Toro picture what with the variety of creepy creatures and such. Don’t get me started on how beautiful the moor was both in the “happy” times, and when it is covered in thorns and darkness. Truly breathtaking!

What didn’t I like?

Stefan. *SIGH* Since Maleficent is a bit more of an anti-hero in this retelling, there needs to be a villain, right? Who better to become the villain than the king? I have no problem with Sharlto Copley’s take on the character. He was doing what the script told him to do, and did a damn fine job of it. However, let’s go back and look at the original, shall we? King Stefan is about as cool, calm, and collected as one can be. How in the bloody blue hell did they decide he needed to go over the deep end and become a villain? Seems to me that either Prince Philip, who was totally useless in this film, or his father…can’t think of his name right now…would have been better fitted, based on their personality. However, I do see the motivation for Stefan, it just doesn’t gel with what we already have seen. More on that shortly.

Wings. Apparently, Maleficent had wings. When she had said wings, she was a force for good, but once those wings were cut off, she required the use of a walking stick, turned evil, and made everyone around her subservient. On top of that, these wings still managed to maintain a life of their own, as can be seen in the climactic battle. My only issue with the wings is that they apparently are the source of her good mood. Is Maleficent really that emotionally unstable?

Change. People are loving this change to what we know about this story, but not me. I prefer to keep things the way they are supposed to be. I wasn’t expecting this to be another Sleeping Beauty story, but rather more of a story of Maleficent leading up to part of that tale, much like Oz: The Great and Powerful. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that and many of the key story points were changed, much t my dismay. With Cinderella next on the docket, I can only wonder how much that one will be changed. I really wish they’d leave stuff alone!

Surprisingly, Maleficent was a much more entertaining (and dark) film than I thought it would be. Angelina Jolie does a great job of bringing her to life and my only real problem with her is that she isn’t green and doesn’t have that evil presence that the original, voiced by Eleanor Audley, managed to bring. Still, with all my personal issues with this film, mostly me being a Disney purist, I still found a way to enjoy this picture. So, I’m sure those that aren’t as anal as myself will have a good time with it and I highly recommend you check it out!

Any takers on how long until we get a Jafar movie?

4 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “Maleficent”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  2. […] Emma Watson’s feminist agenda, but give us something new with this story. For instance, Maleficent was told from a different point of view. Imagine if this was told from, let’s say […]

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