Don’t pay attention to Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t go into this movie with the original Sleeping Beauty as canon in your head.
Go in and watch the movie. Do it in 3D.
Forget the fairy tale you think you know.
Before I begin, those of you who have been around this blog for a while, know my review policy. For those of you who don’t, or who haven’t been around long enough, the short and sweet is; I will never give a book or movie five stars. It defeats the purpose of a review. How annoying is it to go into Amazon and see a five star review consisting of OH MY GOD THIS THING IS AWESOME (insert your own choice of spelling here). Conversely, one star reviews amount to the same thing. So, my rating system ranges from 1.5 to 4.5 with 4.5 being the highest I will ever give something.
And now you know.
Back to the movie.
There is no woman besides Angelina Jolie who could have played Maleficent. NONE. Her command of every scene, of every part of this movie is superb. She brings Maleficent to life and gives us the villain we all love so much.
Go on, use The Google. Maleficent is actually the most loved out of all the Disney villains.
I always thought it was the Evil Queen in Snow White.
Talking of that, anyone notice that a lot of the early Disney flicks didn’t have names for their evil women?
Maleficent is the story of Sleeping Beauty’s wicked fairy we all think we know. It’s the second time (no, Frozen doesn’t count) that Disney has put out a truly (if mildly) feminist flick. Brave started it, Maleficent adds to it, and I’m seriously hoping the trend continues because we need this from Disney like a drowning man needs a life saver.
Maleficent didn’t always used to be evil. At one time she was an orphaned fairy with (gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous) feather wings. Then she met a boy. Friendship blossomed into something more, and in her sixteenth year, she received True Love’s Kiss.
That’s when things went bad.
Very, very, very bad.
Stefan does something unspeakable to get the kingdom for himself and thus makes a mortal enemy of Maleficent. She curses Stefan’s daughter to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into ‘death like sleep’ of which she will not wake until True Love’s First Kiss. Nothing, no power on earth, can revoke Maleficent’s spell, and as the movie continues, you come to understand why that isn’t a good thing.
This is a fairy tale that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but rolls along with it nicely. It doesn’t go out of its way to be steampunk for the sake of; nifty! it’s steampunk! let’s do a steampunk fairytale! Or for cogs, gears, corsets, and goggles on carefully perched hats. Or probably for the way they could have decked out Maleficent’s horns.
Nor does the movie try to outdo itself by the sheer weirdness that was Alice in Wonderland. Not the old one. I love the old one.
The new one.
The really weird new one.
Maleficent is a fairy tale. A straight up fairy tale with magic and dragons, and fucking FAIRIES. Because not every fairy tale has to be updated to modern times, kay? Magic has just gotta be magic in another world where magic is actually a thing. BECAUSE FAIRY TALES, DAMMIT.
The most fun in this movie came from Theodon, Maleficent’s crow. He offers banter with Maleficent that is witty, and it keeps Maleficent grounded. If anything, he is her conscience. Her feathered conscious, but hey, Pinocchio had a damn cricket. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are still the good fairies, but they’re a helluva lot more fun this go around. A lot more argumentative, too. Which was great, and for me, gave a more realistic idea of what three fairies would be like raising a human baby.
The movie does flag, despite powerful performances by Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning. And, let me tell you, if anyone but Elle Fanning tried for Aurora, I would have walked out of the movie. Our princess is innocent, so much so that her character walks a thin line between honest-to-God sweet and wanting to punch her in the face. Elle pulls off Aurora and her innocence where it counts. Where the movie flags, Stefan’s crazy takes over, and for a little while, the movie focuses on a man who made a very, very bad decision.
Angelina Jolie is a powerhouse, and brings Maleficent to life. Her and her awesome cheekbones. And those horns.
I want those horns.
And, if there is a message in this movie, it’s one that any and every girl can get behind. Maleficent is a wronged woman who was hurt, who got lost, and who managed to find herself, and redemption, again.
How she does this I won’t tell you, you’ll have to watch for yourself.
P.S. Let’s hope that Disney will take the opportunity presented with Brave and Maleficent (no, Frozen still doesn’t count) and keep giving our women depth and dimension. Maybe we’ll get a princess that saves herself from a dragon. Or, maybe we’ll get a princess that saves a prince. Wouldn’t that be something?