When Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) gets her wings stolen by her childhood friend, Stefan (Sharlto Copley), she takes revenge by setting a curse on his daughter, Aurora (Elle Fanning). Stefan places Aurora into hiding and uses all the resources of his kingdom to hunt down Maleficent.
In my Godzilla review, I mentioned that movie wasn’t exactly what I expected. Maleficent, on the other hand, is exactly what I expected when I went into the theater. However, that is not a bad thing. On the contrary, like Godzilla, I thought Maleficent was a great new experience with a well known character.
As I said, there wasn’t anything about Maleficent that I already didn’t expect walking into the theater, except maybe the ending, but more on that later. Very much like the Wicked Witch of the West in the play Wicked, Maleficent is painted as a much more sympathetic character than she is in Sleeping Beauty, where she is portrayed simply as a malevolent character. Again, the story was what I expected it would be, but the way it played out was fun. Part of the enjoyment no doubt came from Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of the character. Ever since I saw the first trailer, I have felt Jolie was the perfect fit for Maleficent, and she did not disappoint. Her poise, her attitude, her mannerisms, she completely filled every facet of the character perfectly.
All the special effects in Maleficent look beautiful. The creatures of the Moor are some of the most unique and best looking mythical creatures I have seen. Even the Moor, the land where the creatures live, itself look great. The effects had a strong cartoonish aesthetic. The only characters I think this style isn’t beneficial towards are the three fairies (Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistletwit) when they were in their fairy forms. I feel they need to look more realistic than cartoonish, otherwise they are just awkward. My favorite effect, though, would have to be when Maleficent creates the Forest of Thorns. When the large thorny vines emerge from the ground, it was magnificent.
(*Possible spoilers in this paragraph*) I have been impressed by Disney lately and their shifting viewpoint of “true love” displayed in their recent movies. Much like Frozen, another form of love other than true love’s kiss is highlighted here, causing one character to comment, “There is no truer love.” I’m not going to spoil exactly what happens, but know that it doesn’t play out precisely like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
Entering the theater, I had an idea of what to expect from Maleficent and I walked out without any surprises as a result. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable anyway. The character Maleficent was painted as character molded by her experiences, rather than merely an evil character like in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. This film is visually stunning. Everything from the environments to the characters in the Moor are impressive. The Forest of Thorns Maleficent creates would have to be my favorite effect. Continued from Frozen, Disney’s concept of “true love” seems to be changing from their previous princess movies. Maleficent is fairly predicable movie, but Angelina Jolie completely embodies the titular character and gives a different experience from previous villain-centric movies.
Cast & Crew
Robert Stromberg – Director
Linda Woolverton – Writer
James Newton Howard – Composer
Angelina Jolie – Maleficent
Elle Fanning – Auora
Sharlto Copley – Sefan
Lesley Manville – Flittle
Imelda Saunton – Knotgrass
Juno Temple – Thistletwit
Sam Riley – Diaval
Brenton Thwaites – Prince Philip
Kenneth Cranham – King Henry
Hannah New – Princess Leila
Isobelle Molloy – Young Maleficent
Michael Higgins – Young Stefan