First time director Robert Stromberg brings us a new take on the Disney animated fantasy film: Sleeping Beauty with a film that tells the back story of the most evil and wicked of all Disney villains: Maleficent. However, disappointingly, this is not the Maleficent I wanted to see.
The film begins with a love story between the human serf Stefan and the fairy Maleficent, however, when the possibility of becoming married to King Henry’s daughter and thus becoming king makes him greedy, he steals Maleficent’s wings, thus turning her into an evil enchantress.
She appears at the christening of Princess Aurora where she puts a sleeping curse on her that can only be broken by true love’s kiss. The child is sent away to live with three dimwitted pixies, but Aurora meets Maleficent, mistaking her for her fairy godmother.
As Maleficent grows closer to the child, she regrets her decision and soon decides to revoke the curse, but it fails, and she soon finds Prince Philip who only just met Aurora and she hopes he can break the spell. Meanwhile, King Stefan grows more cold and callous, plotting to destroy his former lover and make her pay.
The film is very well told and it is the best acting I’ve ever seen Angelina Jolie do. Personally, I think she’s overrated, but this film and Kung Fu Panda proved me wrong. The CGI looks animated, but it goes with the fairy tale look, and as an adaption, it is a very unique perspective of the Sleeping Beauty story.
There were a couple of problems in this film. The pixies just sort of let Aurora wander off and they realize that Maleficent is tutoring her. Also, it seems Disney is distancing itself away from the “love at first sight” that made the animated films so popular. That in itself is not a problem, but it is an annoyance. Finally, there was no clear role model for men. Prince Philip has about three minutes of screen time and does not even get to do battle. He was unique among the Disney princes in that he actually fought for his true love, but that has been forgotten to replace it with a politically correct culture that is brewing. I don’t mind filmmakers making political statements in films, but geeze, be honest about it. Don’t sacrifice your film for the sake of a PC points.
My main complaint is with Maleficent herself. She is suppose to be the Mistress of All Evil, and is suppose to be the most nefarious of all Disney villains. Now they have watered her down so much I cannot even recognize her. I do not understand why Disney is watering down their villains: Hook (Once Upon A Time), Jabberwocky (Once Upon A Time In Wonderland), etc.
I have no problem with putting villains in context or even giving them a tragic back story. However, I want a villain that I can love to hate, and Maleficent fails to deliver that.
Other than that, it is a great date night movie and a fantastic ride through Disney’s creativeness.
PARENTAL WARNING: Fantasy violence
- Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
- Ella Purnell and Isobelle Molloy as young Maleficent
- Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora
- Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and Eleanor Worthington Coxas young Princess Aurora
- Janet McTeer as the film’s narrator
- Sharlto Copley as King Stefan
- Michael Higgins as young Stefan
- Sam Riley as Diaval – a raven shapeshifter and Maleficent’s confidant.