1 The Mickey Mindset: Maleficent Film Review

Friday, May 30, 2014

Maleficent Film Review

Mitchell Stein- We know the classic story of Sleeping Beauty, and the curse she was thrust upon as a new-born child, citing that on her sixteenth birthday, she will touch the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The wicked fairy Maleficent cast this spell on her (for reasons unknown, but assumed at the time because she was not invited to the celebration) but Disney’s latest summer blockbuster Maleficent tells us the magnificent story we don’t know, and what you didn't think you needed to know.

The film takes us on a really exciting journey which by far was probably highly unnecessary, but entertaining regardless. The story shines much light on the wicked villainous Maleficent, giving us light on what series of events really caused her to “turn to the dark side” and become the wicked villainous person as she was seen in the events of Sleeping Beauty. I won’t go in-depth on any details in the story for this one, as there’s just an enormous amount of things to spoil in this one.

Angelina Jolie returns to the big-screen after a four year hiatus taking on the lead title role of the film, and she does an incredible job. Maleficent is by far one of the strongest villains in Disney cinematic history, so if there were any villain to deserve a film spin-off, she would win almost instantly. Jolie takes on the wicked role and plays her character so incredibly fantastic. She becomes the character you can’t decide whether you love or hate, (or both) creating such a complex character and pulling you in to find yourself actually caring for a Disney villain. Elle Fanning (Super 8) joins the cast as sixteen-year old Aurora which I thought was flawless. Aurora was a pretty boring one-dimensional character and Fanning really does a great job of playing this character a little better and what she should have been in the film. Keep in mind that this is a movie about Maleficent, and will therefore spotlight Aurora a lot less than in the 1959 film.

I found myself incredibly annoyed by Flora, Fauna and Merryweather in this film, who buzz around most scenes like a fly waiting to be swatted. In Sleeping Beauty the characters are goofy and slightly boring to watch, but in Maleficent they are just plain annoying. I really could not handle the high-pitched sounds of their voice which made them sound pretty ridiculous. There was nothing redeeming to be found in the case of the fairies, so I was pretty happy that they weren’t the main spotlight of the story.

The story is well handled. It begins with an interesting narrative that establishes some facts of the film, possibly a call-back to the 1959 film. It gives us a bit of a backstory of Maleficent’s previous history before meeting up with the events of Sleeping Beauty. There’s lots of story-changes along the way with twists on the classic story, mostly for the better sake of story and filmmaking, but I can totally see some major fans go up in arms about these changes. Don’t be fooled thinking you already know how the movie ends if you’ve seen Sleeping Beauty. There’s still a large amount of story much different from the original story and much of it was not expected.

But perhaps the most impressive feat of Maleficent was its incredible set design and cinematography. Throughout the entire film, beautiful and vibrant colors sparkle and shine, capturing every scene which had me floored the entire film. These designs are little bit reminiscent of James Cameron’s Avatar, in slight comparison, such as in the use of its lens flares and in its creatures. It doesn’t quite rank up there next to Avatar in all its filmmaking aspects, but in some of its designs.

Besides the cinematography, this film soars far above Disney previous two fairy-tale “spin-off” films, Alice in Wonderland and Oz: The Great and Powerful. Luckily, this movie manages to stay on course throughout the entire story and never falls short in its 97 minute run, which I felt can’t really be said about the former two, which felt weak to me at a certain point and they fall apart halfway through the film. If the fairy-tale remakes continue to be like this film, than I don't see myself having much of a problem with them. The trailers are extremely misleading to the movie aside from the story, but in terms of how dark this film really is and how friendly it will be for kids. It’s tamer than Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland remake/sequel, so if you felt that might be okay for your kids, I don’t think you have much to worry for this movie.

Overall, I really enjoyed Maleficent. It was a fun, exciting, and charming (and maybe a bit emotional) journey which was really well-done. I feel that this movie redeems the 1959 film which I always found to be rather boring (I’m going to get major backlash from the Disney fan community for saying that) but this is a more fresh take on the movie with better improvements to it, for the most part. I’d recommend it to most Disney fans, and especially fans of Sleeping Beauty. 

3.5/5 Spinning Wheels

Maleficent opens in North America today. Rated PG. 

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

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