I recently checked out Maleficent and there have been heated arguments regarding it so I decided to put my thoughts out. Maleficent has several things going on for it: great production values, intriguing ideas, beautiful visuals and Angelina Jolie's mesmerizing performance but it falls short on a lot of levels.
Maleficent isn't a terrible film by any means but it is a very disappointing film nonetheless at least to me. The premise of female empowerment is well intentioned, engrossing and even essential. Add to it the fact that the film is told from a villain's perspective it could have been a groundbreaking step in animated to live-action films, but the film is an example of wasted potential.
The following points need to be considered for why I feel that is:
The concept of a feminist, revisionist spin on a classic fairytale is awesome. Frozen did it perfectly and there's no reason why Maleficent shouldn't succeed. The problem is at the very start it makes Maleficent one of Disney's most iconic and fun villains in to a simple woman who has been scorned. Ignoring the cliched trope which we have seen several times, the lazy writing that squanders an opportunity to be different, it renders the entire objective useless. The main female character is now defined by an action of a male protagonist instead of her own ambitions and personality thus making her feel not so independent which is what the story set out to do.
The film butchers almost all characters at least in terms of faithfulness to the original classic... don't get me wrong, Angelina Jolie absolutely kills it as Maleficent, she makes the film much better than it has any right to be. But Maleficent isn't Maleficent for most of the time. The film completely changes Maleficent's character which we enjoyed in the iconic animated film and the film loses much of its charm. Here she is a tragic figure instead of being a fun, energetic, mischievous villain similar to Loki. Elle Fanning is a very good actress, she was a stand-out in "Super 8" but here she isn't given much to do except smile a lot, which she does do well. The king and the prince are repulsive and pathetic respectively with no redeeming qualities. I won't say more about male characters because the film seems angry and disgusted with the male race for some weird reason.
There is a new phenomenon where old-stories are being told with a dark and edgy take. The result is a mixed bag. Some of them like X-Men, The Dark Knight Trilogy, James Bond reboot etc. have implemented it with huge success whereas movies like "Alice in Wonderland (2010)", "Snow-White and The Huntsman", "Man of Steel" have gotten mixed responses. This shows that if the spirit of the source material and themes are maintained then product is good or else it is tonally imbalanced.
Maleficent falls prey to the current trend by half-heartedly darkening up things (while keeping it PG) without any thematic context offered by the source material, thus robbing the story of awe, wonder, joy, and heart.
But having said that, women constituted for over 60% of the audience and the film has already crossed upwards of 400 million in Box-Office collection so it did connect with the target audience. Most women have liked it, I guess, but that could also be due to dearth of female-led films in general. However I feel women must not contend with just anything, they should demand much more.
I am curious to learn about other people's opinions! Did you like it? Did you feel it handled male characters badly?
Please put your thoughts down below.