Maleficent (2014): Don’t Believe the Fairy Tale

Posted: June 5, 2014 in Action, Adventure, Family
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maleficent-posterAs a young girl, a fairy named Maleficent was a member of the mystical society of the Moors. Though their society lived in peace, there was a growing threat from the human kingdom. One of the humans wandered into the Moors and befriended Maleficent. Over the years, there relationship grew and they shared a love that remained in secret from the human kingdom. Years later, their relationship is diminished, with both lovers reverting back to their own worlds. King Henry finally decides to attack the Moors and take over the land, but he fails to prepare for the power of Maleficent and her army. On his death bed, he convinces the best men of the kingdom to kill the evil fairy, to which Stefan takes the task. While he fails to kill her, he tranquilizes her and steals her wings. Getting her vengeance, Maleficent travels to the human kingdom on the christening of the Princess Aurora and places an enchantment of eternal sleep on the child upon her 16th birthday. With a distraught and obsessive king left to fret over Aurora’s fate, Maleficent watches from a close distance to monitor the misery she has created.

Starring: Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Elle Fanning (Aurora), Sharito Copley (Stefan), Lesley Manville (Flittle), Imelda Staunton (Knotgrass), Juno Temple (Thistletwit), Sam Riley (Diaval), Brenton Thwaites (Prince Phillip), Kenneth Cranham (King Henry), Hannah New (Princess Leila), Isobelle Molloy (Young Maleficent), Michael Higgins (Young Stefan)

This was a film made to feature Jolie. She worked to practice her voice for Maleficent with her children prior to performing the role. She provided a certain level of creepiness to the wicked fairy, which played in contrast to the performance of the younger Molloy’s more sweet and innocent persona. Fanning was mostly one-dimensional, though her character was meant to always be happy and cheerful. When the story took a dark turn, she provided a glimpse of sadness and emotional range. Copley certainly displayed obsession extremely well but was a little over the top at times.

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Unlike the original release of the character through the animated Sleeping Beauty, Robert Stromberg’s re-imagination placed Maleficent at the center of the story and not as the villain she was originally portrayed to be. Maleficent grew up an innocent creature. She lived in harmony with the other fairies and mystical beings. Stefan’s appearance started the change, in that it dropped her guard while Stefan still craved the success and status of the human kingdom. Though King Henry’s attack failed, it did open the door for Stefan to strike an unaware Maleficent and steal her wings. Crippling her from flight, she refocused her energy and magic into darkness and took vengeance on Stefan through his daughter. While she intended to cause harm and turmoil, she never expected to fall in love with the young Aurora…much less want to save her from the enchantment.

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The story was not always balanced, as certain periods transitioned a little unevenly, but the most compelling part of the story was the relationship that developed between Maleficent and Aurora. While the original story does not have them with such a significant connection, this film allowed the young girl to misinterpret Maleficent’s involvement in her life as if she was a fairy godmother. While she was half right, Aurora was unaware that Maleficent originally was trying to prolong Aurora’s life to the point that the enchantment would take place. Eventually, Maleficent actually feels guilty about the spell and tried to cancel it (to no effect). The struggle was in significant contrast to Stefan’s obsession and was more compelling in nearly every way.

While the film was not perfect, it was very entertaining. The story is much darker than the PG rating would suggestion and may not be good for kids under 10. This was an interesting re-imagination of the classic story and should not be missed.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5

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