Maleficent the movie can’t decide whether it wants to be mostly another fantastical and beautiful version of Avatar, a grimy Game of Thrones or a Lord of the Rings adventure.
Maleficent is the grand protector of the forest from the encroachment of the ways of man with its palace intrigues, petty jealousies and rapacious need to posses and spoil the land. Her Kingdom exists on the dark edge between natural and supernatural. When her domain is threatened by the nearby royalty even the trees rise up and fight. There are lots of technicolor CGI creaturelings, chattering fairies and free floating almost phosphorescent flora and fauna to be at first enchanting and then annoying as hay fever. Maleficent like the real Angelina Jolie floats about, falls in love with it all and adopts a lot of what she sees.
The Avatar element isn’t too much of a surprise. The director, Robert Stromberg did do the set design and production for that movie. Still the best effect of Maleficent is Angelina Jolie’s deep set cheek bones, responsibility of makeup master Rick Baker and her Dark Highness. There are Victorian women who would bleed themselves to death for the perfect pale white skin Jolie so effortlessly achieves. It is no surprise that Jolie totally owns the role.
Maleficent is a twisted fairy tale about how men are evil and will always treat women wrong. Tis better to be alone with your fairy children, and one adopted female human child playing and living happily forever after and alone. No man to tear you down, put you down or lift you up. All is female empowerment bliss. If the same formula hadn’t been depicted in Frozen this would be a very radical fairy tale retelling.
The spurned lover back story gives Maleficent a sense of tragedy and redemption. Like Jessica Rabbit, Maleficent is not bad just drawn that way by others, this version scripted by Linda Wolverton of Lion King and Beauty and the Beast fame, claims. Great for Maleficent, not so great for Phillip and Aurora who are destined to play out the married happily forever after with family trope. With some humanity come very fuzzy complications. The curse of traditional story telling lasts until the end of time.
The three fairy godmothers come off as soft touches in this version. The men all die or grow insane with doubt, making it easier for bad fairy godmother to show her magnificent maternal side. We already know who wins in the big smack down between patriarchy and matriarchy.
Supposedly Maleficent is Jolie’s last film appearance until she devotes herself to Brad and kids, saving the world and directing confounding dramas. It sends her out as both a star and a queen.