Continuing the trend of re-imagined fairytales, “Maleficent” is Disney’s latest effort to cash in on what they started with “Alice in Wonderland.”
The film starts long before the events of “Sleeping Beauty,” which are turned on their head later on in the tale anyways. Maleficent is a fairy in the Moors, a kingdom adjacent to the human kingdom that is ruled by a power-hungry king seeking to conquer the wild Moors. Maleficent rallies the soldiers of the Moors, made out of the moors themselves, and faces the king, and signs her fate with his defeat. The king establishes a reward for Maleficent, and Stefan collects the prize of the kingdom when he delivers evidence of her defeat. From here, the story takes a complete departure from the classic movie.
“Maleficent” takes the title character and turns her into a jilted, revenge-seeking woman, which takes the bite out of one of Disney’s most iconic villain, and really an iconic villain of all time, sorely lacking from the female gender in film. Maleficent even falls victim to one of the gifts of the three good fairies, and after cursing the infant Aurora, becomes attached to the girl as she grows to reach her sixteenth birthday, even taking on the role of fairy godmother to the princess.
When diminishing Maleficent, Disney needed a new villain. They turned to the ambitious King Stefan, and make him insane with his hunt for Maleficent. They turn a rather benevolent force from the classic into a being capable of betrayal of the heart to advance in power.
The two heavyweights in the movie are Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and Sharlto Copley as King Stefan. These two take up the scene when they are present, and despite how one-dimensional their characters do turn out, they captivate both separately and together. Next to them, Elle Fanning’s Aurora is a faded part of the story deciding her fate.
There is a flow problem to the story. We never quite understand Maleficent’s descent to “evil,” her rise as queen of the Moors, and Stefan’s ambitions. They just simply happen.
“Maleficent” is by no means a great Disney movie. It’s probably one of their more mediocre efforts at storytelling. The effects make the movie worth watching, and Jolie is the only one with any real draw to last the films length. “Maleficent” gets a B from me, because it relied on the effects and the hope the audience would buy into this new tale and its happy-ending-for-all resolution. Parents can sit through it with the kids without being completely bored, which makes it an ideal summer movie.
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