At long last, the first Disney film on the countdown! Believe me when I tell you I’m a big fan of Disney. Who can honestly hate Disney? (Don’t answer that…or do. I dunno). Anyway, I had the privilege of watching every Disney film released in 2014, and this is the first one up to bat!
Let me be the first to say that the concept of a Maleficent movie was such a great idea. I was digging the idea from the start, and that was only helped by my trip to Disney World in June. There, they had a sneak peak of the movie playing in a theater like area. (Had a line and everything). This convinced us to see the film at the AMC Theater in Downtown Disney the next day. Believe me, it was the right thing to do.
Maleficent is the live-action reimagining of Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty. This is the story told from the perspective of the villain. Maleficent was the biggest and strongest of all the fairies of Moor, a magical kingdom across the way from a human kingdom. When Maleficent is young, she meets a human peasant named Stefan and spark a friendship which turns into something more. After a battle between the humans and the moors, the opportunity to become king opens to Stefan. Their paths meet again as adults, where Stefan betrays Maleficent to claim the throne.
Outraged, Maleficent takes over the Moors and concocts her plan for revenge. This opportunity presents itself, or herself, on the christening of Stefan’s daughter Aurora. Maleficent places an evil curse upon the girl where in 16 years she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and enter an eternal sleep. Stefan orders Aurora to be relocated until then whilst Maleficent watches in the shadows.
Maleficent is one of Disney’s more creative films in a while. It takes a perspective outside their comfort zone and delves into darker tones. These are just two of the things this movie excels at.
One of the first things you will notice is the film’s darker, gothic atmosphere and tone. The film looks beautiful in its dark and light aspects. Despite what you may think before seeing the movie, this movie has a lot of brighter moments. The Moors are beautiful set-pieces. It utilizes natural light, which allows features like the grass, the trees, and the water look better. You’ll admire the beginning scenes where the Moors are a happy place to be in.
However, the movie really thrives in the darkness. Maleficent’s dark magic overrides those bright features and presents a new, ever-ominous look. It’s truly the better of the two worlds in my opinion.
But looks are one thing, what about the story? Again, this is a perspective Disney isn’t to used to exploring: a Macbeth type story. Who would’ve ever guessed that Disney could pull this off as well as they did. It would be easy for the story to be nothing more than a paint-by-numbers retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty plot. What makes this film work best is that they don’t just retell the story. They remade it. This isn’t the same story you know from the countless iterations of the story (not even Disney’s version).
This all is due to one very important factor: Maleficent herself. It turns out she is an incredible character. Before this film she was a very one-dimensional villain with a pathetic motivation (the birthday party, remember). Here it makes total sense. She wasn’t just a noble fairy- she’s strong by nature. She doesn’t just show up and put a curse on a baby for no reason- she had personal problems with the king beforehand. On top of that, the king is a douche. She isn’t a stupid villain either. She knows exactly where they hid Aurora and played guardian in the shadows.
I can go on for hours on how well they executed this character until I reach spoiler territory. I of course won’t, but take my word for how much you’ll grow to like Maleficent as a character. This is before we even get to the relationship that ends up forming between Aurora and Maleficent as time goes on. All I will say is that this is a very fascinating bond that I’m sure many will get behind.
The acting is great in the movie, too. Angelina Jolie was the perfect actress to play Maleficent as it turns out. Not only does she pull off the look and the personality, but she even sounds like her.
Aurora is played by Elle Fanning and appears around the middle of the film. Though the character lacks a personality, she pulls off a great showing for what she’s given. King Stefan is portrayed by Sharito Copley, who also pulls off a great showing. I especially admire his progressive descent into madness that goes on throughout the movie. It makes him a very interesting villain.
The last thing I feel the need to mention is the soundtrack. The music is actually pretty strong. The one song that tends to stick out to me is the covered version of “Once Upon a Dream” performed by Jolie herself. It just sounds so great being all spooky and slowed-down. Perhaps even a bit soothing. This is definitely a worthy track.
Maleficent is a great movie overall, and should fair well to fans of the original Sleeping Beauty. I believe the film would be best recommended to families with children no younger than four. Disney and fans will especially love the new twist. There also exists some empowering themes for women, too.
Really I think anyone can watch this movie and enjoy themselves. Even if you aren’t much of a fan of Disney, this is a refreshing film from the House of Mouse. It’s worth a rental at the very least.
View #11 here!
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!