By Logan Sharp
A re-telling of an old Disney classic that is beautiful but flawed in it’s attempt at being another Disney classic.
I had never seen Sleeping Beauty until two days before I saw Maleficent. After watching the original, Angelina Jolie had a lot to live up to; I’m a huge stickler for films sticking close to the source material. While Maleficent stays fairly close to the original story, it strays away just far enough to make it it’s own.
In this version, we follow from Maleficent’s perspective from her childhood. She begins as a kind, gentle and loving fairy among the enchanted kingdom, beloved by all. She meets a boy, Stefan, who later becomes king, and it all goes downhill from here. What begins as an innocent and cute puppy love romance ultimately winds up in a betrayal that is twisted, morbid but does not top Prince Hans’ from Frozen. It’s an interesting twist to the story as this is the catalyst for Maleficent’s transformation to evil.
“Say what you will about the rest of the film but Angelina is top-notch as Maleficent.”
As Maleficent begins turning to the dark side, I can’t help but feel sorry for her and Angelina Jolie does a magnificent job as Maleficent. I truly felt that she was this character and related with her as she let the rage consume her but questioned herself throughout the film. Say what you will about the rest of the film but Angelina is top-notch as Maleficent! From injecting humor into the character to showing the inner-battle of what’s right and wrong just from a facial expression, Maleficent has never been better.
Sharlto Copley plays an obsessed and ruthless King Stefan. Throughout the film, you see his descent into madness as his obsession over Maleficent consumes him. I’ll never forget the scene where he is having a conversation with himself while gazing at Maleficent’s wings in a dark, dingy room. Copley’s character brings an intense and dark vibe to the film that reminded me, slightly, of the late Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Parents be warned, this is not your childhood Sleeping Beauty story anymore.
Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, and Juno Temple are so-so as the three fairies that adopt Aurora. Frankly, they annoyed me more than anything and I wish they had less screen-time or otherwise cut from the film. They looked like themselves as fairies but look horribly ugly and obviously fake. If Marvel, now owned by Disney, can super-impose Chris Evans on a skinny white guy in Captain America, they can certainly do a better job here. They reminded me of the horrific new look for the Ninja Turtles but at this point, I think the Turtles looked better. It also doesn’t help that Imelda Staunton played the most hated villain of the Harry Potter series (Delores Umbridge) and I could not stop seeing her as anything else.
“The first 30 minutes are the most interesting bits of the film as we see Maleficent’s transformation from kind-hearted to wrecking your crap at a moment’s notice.”
As far as the story goes, it’s decent. The first 30 minutes are the most interesting bits of the film as we see Maleficent’s transformation from kind-hearted to wrecking your crap at a moment’s notice. After we get past the scene of Maleficent’s curse we all have seen from Sleeping Beauty, the story starts to drag as we are taken through different parts of Aurora’s life where Maleficent is watching from afar, intervening now and again.
I’m going to take a short-side-track here to say that the prince in the movie is absolutely useless. He serves no purpose in the film and I still have no clue why he was even there. He shows up for a total of (maybe) 10 minutes and does nothing to the film. This kind of spoils a part of the film but I’m shocked at useless this pretty boy was.
Going back to Maleficent watching over Aurora, it’s a little confusing as to why Maleficent is doing this to begin with but I understand why it’s in the movie: we’re supposed to pity Maleficent and think that in some way she’ll turn around. She ultimately does but I won’t spoil that for anyone still waiting to see it. However, this is what strays most from the original story and ranks itself as “decent” but not “classic”. I do find it really rad that Maleficent is coming to Disney Infinity 2.0, designed exactly how her movie version is. Let’s be honest, it’s a really cool look!
With a run-time of an hour and a half, Maleficent is a fun film, despite it’s pacing problems and creative license over the original. While I can recommend this film to most, I would warn parents taking their child to this film as some scenes are disturbing and morbid but if you like taking your kids to films where guys drug fairies to cut off their wings, talk to themselves while drinking and classic lime-green Disney villain powers, then go for it.
I give Maleficent a 7.5 out of 10.