Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Interestingly clever take.
Eight years ago, I was in the only high school play I ever took part in, Sleeping Beauty. Now, the funny thing was, if I wanted the role of Prince Charming, I can almost guarantee I would have gotten it, but I didn’t want my first kiss to be fictitious, so I chose the comedic side, “Hero”. Hero is a character written for that specific variation of the story, and he basically saves the day (hero), not Prince Charming, so it was a different, altered version of the original story. So I’m not against creative liberties, and I was definitely looking forward to Maleficent for the same reasons. It’s not the best movie in the world, but it’s fun. I just wished “Hero” would have showed up.
Angelina Jolie dawns her spikey horns for the role of Maleficent in this alternate take on the original story. She grew up more or less loving life as a fairy and the idea of true love’s kiss. She was in love with this boy named Stefan, but when Stefan grew older, the promise of the royal throne was too tempting to ignore…so he betrayed her and cut off her wings. In return, she cursed his only daughter – so that on her 16th birthday, she would fall into a sleep…a sleep she would never wake from. The only problem was throughout the years, little Aurora began to grow on Maleficent, but the curse couldn’t be taken back.
I’ll start with the bad and go from there, because I wasn’t a huge fan of how the movie started. I was a little confused on the overly-wordy backstory. I mean, there was a lot of narrator stuff explaining everything. There were wars and feelings and character development…it was material that could have been used in a completely separate film, and it felt really rushed and really confusing trying to sort through. The film’s acting was also way too over-the-top being a Disney film based partly on a cartoon. You can bet that there wasn’t a huge demand for exemplary acting ability, so there just wasn’t.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the casting. On one hand, these were really great actors that almost everyone will recognize. On the other hand, I just don’t think they fit the roles very well…any of them, really. Angelina Jolie looked the part, but there were some scenes here and there that were laughable in terms of acting…but a lot of that was character writing. Why curse a child, only to have the curse effect her on her 16th birthday? Why not just curse the baby into a slumber, logically speaking? The beginning of the movie didn’t make a lot of logical sense.
Now, the rest of the movie I liked for a variety of reasons – mostly speaking, story and character development from a different angle. It teaches you a lot about what love actually is, versus what love is in the original Sleeping Beauty and practically every old Disney cartoon. The view here was really heartfelt and honest. It’s something I’m glad they went with, but it’s also about the idea of misunderstood people. The idea of being different not necessarily being bad, and how the bad things people do to us aren’t always “evil” but instead done out of pain. At the heart of the thing, it has a lot of soul…even though it’s obsessed with visuals.
The visuals, of course, were trying very hard to look really nice, but cartoony in animation at the same time. I’m not going to say they are bad visuals, but I will say that a lot of it was unnecessary. Most of the scenes with Maleficent throughout the film was just her having various fun with her various fairy powers. That’s it. I respect the heart of the film, and what it was going for, but a lot of the film feels really unnecessary.
The best part of Maleficent is it’s heart and boldness to do something else with a classic story. It’s entire view on love and a broken heart is really powerful.
I won’t say anything is absolutely horrible, just more along the lines of “trying too hard” to be something that it’s not. They were clearly more obsessed with making it look nicer all around, in both the CGI and acting; picking actors that aren’t right for the roles purely out of their celebrity status. Sharlto Copely, in another example, is an incredible actor, but him in the role of the king was just stupid.