A DARKER TAKE ON THE CLASSIC STORY WITH A POWERHOUSE PERFORMANCE BY ANGELINA JOLIE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B (3 stars)
Disney’s iconic villainess from the classic story, Sleeping Beauty returns in this new re-imagining of the story. Angelina Jolie (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Salt, Wanted) stars as Maleficent, the dark faerie who put a curse on a young princess when she was only a baby.
The film begins with Maleficent as a little girl living in an enchanted forest of faeries and other majestic creatures. She befriends a young peasant boy named Stefan (Toby Regbo and Michael Higgins (young Stefan), Sharlto Copley-District 9, The A-Team, Elysium) and the two of them have become close friends for years.
That is until Stefan gives Maleficent a “True Love’s Kiss”. But was it really true love? Nope.
Stefan removes Maleficent’s wings and flees back to the kingdom he came from, where he later is crowned king. Out of rage Maleficent crashes his daughter’s first birthday and puts a curse on her and I’m sure we all know what’s coming.
On her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and go into a sleep-like death. King Stefan calls in three pixies, Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Pirates! Band of Misfits), Thistlewit (Juno Temple-Atonement, The Other Boleyn Girl), and Flittle (Lesley Manille-Another Year) to take his newborn daughter far away from Maleficent.
For sixteen years the pixies have been taking care of the king’s daughter, whom we all know as the free-spirited and beautiful Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning-Super 8) in secret from Maleficent. Aurora soon discovers Maleficent and they start bonding and getting to know each other and in time, Maleficent discovers she may have feelings for Aurora and might even call off the curse.
Overall, for a re-imagining, Maleficent is an enjoyable adventure, the production design is gorgeous, the special effects are pretty impressive, and Angelina Jolie’s performance as Maleficent is amazing, she really hits it out of the park.
Besides Jolie’s performance, most of the casting is pretty solid, Elle Fanning as Aurora, while it’s no major improvement over the animated Aurora, at least she actually looks like a teenager, the original Aurora from the Walt Disney movie looks older than 16, either 18 or maybe early 20s.
Honestly, out of all the recent dark fairy tale adaptations, I would have to say I may prefer this movie over films like Alice in Wonderland or Oz: The Great and Powerful. Granted Oz was decent and Alice in Wonderland had an interesting visual style, I praise Maleficent, not just for the effects but the plot was unique, it explained Maleficent’s past and what caused her to become the villainess we know today.
If you’re expecting a musical with colorful characters and songs, you are not going to find it here; you’d be better off watching Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. But if you’re looking for an interesting and more adult take on the story, you may find some enjoyment out of Maleficent, though I wouldn’t recommend it to young children, it has scenes that may frighten them.
So take it for what it is and enjoy a gritty take on a classic story, I miss the dragon with the green fire though.