Maleficent is one of the most iconic and recognizable Disney villains of all time. She was first introduced in Sleeping Beauty as the (self-proclaimed) Mistress of All Evil and since her first appearance, she’s captured the interest of millions of adults and children alike. It’s no wonder that Disney decided to bring her to life again not only on the big screen, but in a live action film at that. But does Angelina Jolie’s performance as the Evil Queen stand up to the high expectations?
Like many others, I had those high expectations about this movie and for the most part they were met but in other ways, I was left feeling a little confused and not too happy about the creative freedom that was given to the story. If you take the story as it is and don’t expect it to be too much like the cartoon version, the movie is quite enjoyable. Of course the story will be different because this is not a remake of Sleeping Beauty; it’s the story told from the viewpoint of Maleficent. It was refreshing to see the viewpoint of the villain, however the story’s end did change from the original, making Maleficent less of an evil character from a fairytale and more a misguided figure in real life.
The story starts off with Maleficent as a child which shows her as a fairy creature with large feathered wings and horns. The middle of the story is a lot like the movie Sleeping Beauty with the three Fairies Fittle (originally Merryweather), Knotgrass (originally Flora) and Thistletwit (originally Fauna) at the christening of the kings daughter, Aurora. In this story, Maleficent has a direct connection to King Stefan which is explained why she feels she should have been invited to the christening when she arrives, and that was also mentioned in the original.
From there, the story tends to take a little of a left turn from the Disney animated classic. I understand the writers didn’t want to make it identical to the animated film, however I feel the key elements should have stayed the same. As a fan and a geek, I prefer my story lines to be consistent. Despite the story being about a well known Disney villain, the character actually develops as more than just an evil villain. That is where I disagree with the step that they took; it was such a different direction and the ending *SPOILER* was a happy one, but not in the way you expect. It’s the villain that ultimately gets the happy ending, and that’s rare in cinema these days. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I don’t like happy endings; it was the choice of the filmmakers to have the villain ‘win’ on this one and it has to be done well or else it can come across as being forced or cheesy.
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent truly is the real star of the movie and was easily the best part. Her emotions and conviction that were shown will really move those who watched her. The great thing about a villain movie is that villains usually go through something terrible and unlike their hero counterparts, they either become victims of their own circumstances or find themselves stuck down the path of evil by letting their emotions control them. Maleficent’s path is one where her circumstances let things consume her and shape her path.
Elle Fanning plays Aurora, the cursed Princess who is always happy even in dramatic occasions. Her performance, while good, was easily overpowered by Jolie’s presence onscreen. I was disappointed in some parts of the story as I was hoping some of the things I loved the most would stay the same, but with the reinvention of a film and a complete different way of telling the classic tale, it’s bound to happen.
The graphics and the 3D scenes were well done and very magical. My two favorite parts of the movie are of course the gorgeous and powerful Angelina Jolie, and the visuals and effects the film had. I’ve always loved the idea of magical creatures such as Fairies, Nymphs, Brownies, Gnomes and more. I was so happy those creatures had a presence in the film, because in this story there is a human kingdom and what is called “The Moors” where all of the magical creatures live. The design of “The Moors” felt almost like a dream; the films art and special effects team really transported you to what truly felt like an enchanted forest.
Overall, I did enjoy the movie when I just took it as it was and didn’t think about the original, and luckily for the production company they really did cast a wonderful Maleficent. Children all over are getting excited for this movie and little girls more and more are wanting to be the evil Queen instead of the princess. Adults may criticize the movie and bash the changes, however to the children it’s a fresh and magical story. I think it’s best to say that when you watch this movie, get out your innocent child eyes and soak in the journey it takes you on; don’t get caught up in the details.
+ Wonderful acting from Angelina Jolie
+ Fantastic graphics and effects
+ Fairies and magical creatures
- Plot and story changes from the Animated Disney Film