Maleficent- Review

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By:Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

When was the last time you were misunderstood? Someone took a joke too seriously, didn’t quite get the sarcasm in your statement, took a text message one way when it was meant another? It happens. And so it is with the re-imagining of the Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty. Brought to us by director Robert Stromberg, making his directorial debut, Maleficent provides a fresh take on the animated classic, giving us the story from Maleficent’s perspective. And, much like the character of Elphaba from Wicked, Maleficent reminds us that there are two sides to every story.

Maleficent wasn’t always bad. As a young girl, Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy) watched over her lands known as The Moors, where magical creatures live. One day a human boy named Stefan (Michael Higgins) enters, and the two become friends, growing into something more as the years go by. But eventually human ambition takes over, and an adult Stefan (Sharlto Copley) takes advantage of Maleficent, causing her to lose her faith in humans and become a much darker person. Maleficent (now Angelina Jolie) plans her revenge, which, as we all know, consists of putting a curse on Stefan’s baby daughter, Aurora, to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and nearly die. But, she can be saved by true love’s kiss. However, neither Maleficent nor Stefan believe true love really exists. With everything in place, will Aurora (Elle Fanning) be saved or will she stay asleep forever while war rages between humans and magic creatures?

 

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Maleficent offers new perspectives and twists on the classic tale. The first is done by giving us the story from the perspective of the “villain”. In this version, Maleficent wasn’t always bad, and some could argue she was never bad at all. Considering her circumstances, and what happens to her, I think most anyone would be tiny bit peeved and desire a little payback. We also see that, after all that happens to Maleficent, she is still, at the heart of her being, a good person. The film also gives us a fairy godmother situation which wasn’t found in the original. With Aurora growing up, she believes Maleficent to be her fairy godmother who has always been around watching her over the years. This develops another layer to the initial complexity of their relationship and greatly adds to the character and plot development later on. Such is the power of the relationship that Maleficent wants to rescind the curse she placed on Aurora.


One of the strongest points of the film are the visual effects and production design. Stromberg predominantly worked on the visual effects and production design side prior to this film, having done production design for Alice in Wonderland and Avatar, and worked on visual effects on films such as Life of Pi, Pan’s Labyrinth, and the Hunger Games. What we get is a rich and vibrant realm, particularly the realm of The Moors, where the light brought upon by a ruling child soon becomes much darker as the heart of this now adult darkens on itself. The vast majority of this work is done by computers, but rarely do we notice any imperfections as such care and detail is given to bringing this world to life. The three fairies who initially bless Aurora, and later raise her, do look a little silly in their miniature form, and more time could have been dedicated to making them more realistic and less CGI looking, but nothing is perfect and the story goes on.
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Maleficent is what we have come to expect from big summer films in regards to it being a film that places a big focus on being a huge, visual experience. But the film goes beyond that with a great performance by Angelina Jolie in the title role. Elle Fanning turns in a nice role as Aurora, but really isn’t stretching her thespian skills with this character, and Sharlto Copley is a little more one note for the majority of the film, which almost feels like a waste given his talent. The film definitely isn’t the Disney classic we all grew up with, and the age demographic is aimed more at the late teens and up. Not to say one can’t do a family outing with younger children, but they may not be as entertained with this as they would with the upcoming How to Train Your Dragon 2. But Maleficent is more than worthwhile in its own respect, with its twist on the original story, a visually stunning world to explore and a great performance by Mrs. Jolie. Oh, and there is still a fire breathing dragon.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


    2 Comments

  1. Kristy GoodJune 2nd, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks for a review I feel I can trust. I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie, so far none of the trailers grabbed my attention. I do like to see stories from different angles and it sounds like this will do just that. Thanks!

  2. waschalJune 9th, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I really liked the movie.

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