If you’re going to see Maleficent this weekend, with the hopes of getting a live-action retelling of the classic Disney animated feature…think again. The film gives us a look at the untold story behind Sleeping Beauty and explains the evil fairy’s deep-seeded hatred and lust for revenge.
As soon as the movie begins you’re transported to a beautiful world where magical creatures and humans live separately and we meet a young Maleficent. She’s pretty much a normal fairy at this point, happy and in tune with nature, but just a little on the large side (which unfortunately is never really explained). When she meets the human boy Stephen and the two form a friendship that blossoms through the years into love, however, it becomes clear to see where this story is going. In a tragic twist, the love of her life painfully betrays her. It’s out of this betrayal that the evil sorceress we’re familiar with begins to take shape. The story that results resembles the Sleeping Beauty that we all know and love, but if you think you know how this one will end, you’ve got no idea (seriously…I had no idea…I guessed the ending in my mind like two or three times throughout the course of the film and only got it right by the time the answer was painfully obvious).
Angelina Jolie stunned as the beautiful but vengeful Maleficent. Her acting was flawless as the scorned fairy, bringing just the right amount of commanding presence with a hint of softness to the infamous Disney villain, that eventually left me rooting for her to be victorious. You could tell she had a blast while playing the role, even bringing a bit of sarcasm and dry humor to the character. Whenever she was on screen it was impossible to take your eyes off of her. Personally, I think part of the reason she wanted this movie made (Jolie serves as executive producer for the film as well) was so that she could walk around looking badass for 2 hours…and I’m ok with that. Seeing her in a scene opposite her real-life daughter Vivienne (playing a young Aurora) was pretty adorable as well.
Elle Fanning brought a believeable amount of old school Disney princess sweetness to the pure-hearted Aurora. Her time on-screen is just enough to give us a sense of the princess’ curiosity, love and respect for the world around her, both magical and non, but doesn’t take away from Maleficent’s story being told. Plus I think if they showed much more of her I would have contracted diabetes.
The story itself is an interesting tale of love, betrayal, vengeance and healing. Sure, there were some odd bits, like the fact that Aurora’s trio of fairy caretakers seem to just let her galavant through the enchanted forest at all hours with no supervision, or the inconsistency of the rules of magic, but the visual magnificence of the film almost made me not question these things…almost. We also could have done without Prince Philip in this version. He was basically there as a pretty face…which I guess is in line with Disney’s strong female lead kick they’ve been on since the release of their last few princess films (oh heeeeeyy Frozen and Tangled!) All in all, I wasn’t disappointed, although some parts of the story could have been fleshed out a little further.
Here’s the official trailer for the film, now playing:
Photo Credit: Disney
Video Credit: Youtube