We first had the pleasure of meeting the malicious, yet almost charming Maleficent in Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty. Little was known about the evil fairy who didn’t receive an invitation to the christening of royal baby Aurora (the protagonist), and then proceeded to curse the innocent little thing to prick her finger on a spindle and die! Yip, girlfriend was pissed off and helluva scary.
Years later, Disney flipped the story on its head and aimed to tell the “entire story” in the movie Maleficent by making Maleficent the protagonist and making her flesh and blood. In my opinion they did this for two reasons: Disney saw the success of fable to movies like Lord Of The Ring and more recently, Oz the Great and Powerful; secondly, it allowed them the opportunity to explore and give the character more depth.
This new spin on things speaks to the notion of true love, unconventional families, and female empowerment themes with strong female characters. The story is narrated but not to ad nuseaum, and sheds light on two worlds that have been uneasy with each other. The Moors, the world of Maleficent, a peaceful, colourful place that contains magical beings and precious elements while on the other hand the human kingdom is filled with power and greed.
We’re introduced to a young Maleficent who would become the protector of the Moors as well as a young Stefan, a human, who would later be crowned as King of the human kingdom. You are drawn into young love and as the story unfolds, share in the bliss and sorrow of the magical Moors and the celebration and loss of the humans in the kingdom.
It’s s laden with CG, obviously, but I was disappointed in the lack of intense colour, and at times, it felt flat. It’s not as epic as Lord of The Rings but it works. It’s somewhat dark so don’t expect the same whimsical story that you saw in Snow White and the Huntsman.
Also, unlike the over-acting by Charlize Theron or the lack of acting by Kristen Stewart, this movie has a talented cast led by Angelina Jolie. Jolie delivers an exceptional performance as Maleficent, something that I haven’t seen since “Changeling.” This is her redemption after the horrendous “The Tourist.”
Not only does she resemble the original Maleficent but also becomes her. She demands every frame and gives the character so much dimension, something that you just can’t portray in an animated movie. Trust me, she shines; I think I had goose bumps during one of the scenes. Have I mentioned her fabulous costumes? Yes, she dons some amazing creations and I especially loved the black dress that’s almost a replica of the original Maleficent’s.
Elle Fanning does a good job playing Aurora but I felt that she lacked a certain spark, the magical presence that you expect from a princess. In a supporting role is our very own Sharlto Copley as King Stefan. His acting, the little that he has, is convincing however, his accent is quite jarring ranging from Cockney to Scottish mixed with a bit of South African – I wish I could un-hear that. Other noteworthy performances include that of the magical pixie played Imelda Staunton and Sam Riley as Diavel.
What makes the movie special is that the director and writers have managed to keep the gist of the fable but tell it in a way that actually makes sense – something that that god-awful Snow White and the Huntsman failed to do.
Maleficent is magical and epic in its own right, emotionally captivating and a definite must-see.