Maleficent: A Review

maleficent-posterLet’s just start this review by saying I was incredibly skeptical going into Maleficent.  The recent fairytale adaptations have been so bad.  In recent years we’ve gotten Tim Burton’s awful Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and Huntsman, Mirror Mirror, Red Riding Hood, Return to Oz have all been dark, gloomy, boring, ponderous pieces of junk.  Yep, that’s what I think.

So I was not excited about Maleficent but I always try to go into a movie with an open mind hoping to be dazzled.  And…

Here’s the trailer

It’s more of the same I’m afraid.  Maleficent basically does to Sleeping Beauty what Phantom Menace did to Star Wars.  It waters down it’s iconic villain to the point beyond recognition making her the hero of the story.  I get that people are complicated and rarely all bad but a fairytale traditionally is a battle of good vs evil.  If it is kind of good vs kind of bad than it ends up being very boring.  Imagine if Voldermort had been really a nice guy after all?  Would that have captured our interest for 8 films and 7 books?  No! Imagine if the Ring of Power was really the ring of goodness and lollipops would Frodo have sacrificed all to destroy it?  No!  In this kind of story we need evil and we need good and then the story builds around that.

So Maleficent starts out with our backstory and we find out that she is a unique fairy, a fully-sized human where the fairies from the original movie are tiny, strange looking creatures (if you thought the old fairies were annoying get ready…). Plus, they change all the personalities of the fairies.  Flora is supposd to be the leader, Fauna is silly and Merryweather is the realist.  In this they are all the same.  If you look at the original the fairies actually are the brains and heart behind defeating Maleficent.  Now they are stupid, negligent and annoying.

fairies

So Maleficent is a joyous happy girl who meets a boy named Stefan who is a human boy that she befriends.

They of course end up  falling in love in a montage and then Stefan returns to the land of the humans.

There is a battle with the king  with the tree people and Maleficent and snoozefest another battle in this type of movie.  I’m so sick of the warrior scenes.  The tree creatures felt like a copy of tree people we’ve seen in a thousand other movies.  I felt that way about most of Maleficent. Seen it all before.

The CGI throughout the movie looks dirty and incredibly fake.  When you think of the stunning artistry of Sleeping Beauty, a movie that took almost a decade to make because the layering of the backdrops and the literary quality to the characters this cheesy seen it all before CGI is an embarrassment.  It’s like with Return to Oz.  Don’t take the brightness and joy of the original and give me a cloudy, murky, CGI ridden world.

So, SPOILER)#$)#@()($)#($)#@($)#($- Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know a few things in the story)

 

So the king wants revenge on Maleficent for the battle and he tells Stefan if he can kill her and bring him her wings than he will be made King.  So we get a pretty good scene where Maleficent and Stefan reunite, cuddle (maybe more?) and then he drugs her and instead of killing her cuts off her wings.

Maleficent-king

Stefan is played by Sharlto Copley who oddly enough I thought looked like Michael Bay.  He’s terrible in the movie.  His accent comes in and out and it feels like bad neighborhood theater.   There is no chemistry between him and Maleficent at any time which is kind of crucial because it is the reason she is bad is because of her broken heart.

Then we get to the day of the christening and the blessings which are so powerfully done in the original.  Instead of a whole ballet like in the original we get a few seconds of Flora giving Aurora beauty and then Merryweather (they change their names here and  make them idiots)  gives her the wish ‘of never being blue’.

That’s not right!!!!  Fauna is supposed to give Aurora the gift of music and then when Maleficent gives the curse Merryweather gives her the gift of being asleep not dead.  In this version Maleficent is the one that curses her to sleep not death!!!

Are you kidding me?  What kind of a lame villain is this?  Cursing her greatest enemy that she will sleep until true love’s kiss?  That’s the lamest curse I’ve ever heard.  Certainly not worthy of Maleficent.

maleficent-fr

So Fauna never gives her blessing I’m not sure why.  I guess they didn’t want to have Aurora singing?  I don’t see why not when you’ve got such a great song from the original which they only use in the credits.

So the the king hides the baby with ‘the idiots’ and they leave her alone for long periods of time where Maleficent looks in on her and is by her side.  This makes no sense.  Even if you felt some guilt if you were angry enough to curse someone you wouldn’t immediately be by their side watching over them.  Grrr

Prince Phillip is in this but very briefly but they try to pull a Frozen twist on it and it is so ridiculous.  In the original the scene where Aurora is transfixed and pricks her finger it is eery and frightening.  Here it is completely boring.  And then we find out that it is the true love of Maleficent that breaks the spell!!!!

maleficent

Are you kidding me? This is the woman who has horns on her head.  She controls minions and locks the prince up in a dungeon and tells him ‘so much for true love!’.

Even if you want to make a more nuanced character you can’t completely change said character.  At least the Star Wars prequels as atrocious as they are didn’t negate the originals completely.  It’s not like Vader was the hero at the end.  No he was very bad and you could see why he would destroy entire planets in the next movies.   This completely changes everything about the original.

I’m amazed this didn’t tick more people off.  I thought it was outrageous.   Shame on you Disney!  Wicked, which started this whole trend, told the story how the wicked witch became wicked.  It didn’t try to change her so she wasn’t wicked at all.

Now that Aurora is awaken by her true love’s kiss (Maleficent) she rules the combined land s of fairies and men in peace with Maleficent by her side who gets her wings back. Groan, groan, groan.

maleficent_ellefanning2So good things about it? Jolie is okayish.  I’ve heard a lot of people excuse her performance.  (Her daughter Viviene is cute as baby Aurora).  But I actually thought she shouted most of her lines and they didn’t sound like a real person and since the point of this movie was to create a real person it was a failure.  I never felt connected to her or sorry for her.  Also her look which everyone loved always looked like a costume not her real body.  Basically Maleficent is supposed to be like Voldemort, the epitome of evil.  She is a she-devil, horns and all.  In this it seemed like someone in a Maleficent costume.  Kind of ready to go to a biker bar with leather all about her.

maleficent2.pngSorry guys. I know a lot of you liked it but I was not a fan of Maleficent.  You cannot go back and completely change the events of a story.  Show another side, fine (although still not a fan) but do not permanently change  the events of the plot.  In the end what they did was a remake of the original and a shoddy one at that.  I honestly thought this was worse than Phantom Menace… It also looks murky and dark, the CGI sucks and the acting is really bad.

Overall Grade- F

Unfortunately it made a lot of money so the trend of butchering my favorite childhood movies is going to continue.  Next up Cinderella which I am slightly more hopeful about because it has already been done so many times since the 1950 Disney.

PS there is no dancing or singing or once upon a dream and considering the original was based on a Tchaikovsky ballet that is another unfortunate change …No sleeping spell over the town and the dragon isn’t Maleficent after all who isn’t killed by the sword of truth but the crow hurt by the evil King Stefan.  Sigh…Yes, they even changed the crow around.

 

34 thoughts on “Maleficent: A Review

  1. Well, with a due respect, I liked this film and I also liked the Frozen twist towards the end. Also, I think they had Maleficent watch over Aurora to show that Maleficent hadn’t gone completely bad after all. Anyway, sorry this was unfortunately not your cup of tea.

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    1. But they completely changed the original story. Maleficent doesn’t curse Aurora to sleep. That’s Merryweather’s cure. You can’t just completely change the story like that. If Maleficent was so angry why would she do that? Why would she make her go to sleep. That’s not much revenge. I like the ending in Frozen but since this changes the story with an entirely new ending it bothered me. I didn’t buy that she could watch over Aurora like that without the knowledge of 3 people, the faeries. They just changed too much and fundamentally altered all of the characters making them luke-warm when they were bold in the original. Look what they did to Phillip? My favorite Prince!

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      1. Also, look what they did to Stefan! In their earnest to eliminate the evil and devilishness from Maleficent, they simply transferred the hatred and evil into another character and make him just as devilish as the original Maleficent was. I guess they were incapable of making a truly villain-less film and making it work out well. I like it better when Maleficent was evil, Phillip was a butt-kicking awesome prince, and the fairies were the real stars of the show. This film is such a mockery of Disney greatness.

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      2. Agree! And the idea the faeries would be so negligent and just allow Maleficent so much access to Aurora is ridiculous. Boy would they be unaware given that was their one job!
        And the idea she would give such a lame curse on her enemy was laughable. What kind of villain curses her enemy to a long nap and true love kiss! And literally the moment she gives the curse she starts visiting and watching Aurora? It’s nuts! Thanks for commenting. Glad you and I agree on this one!

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    2. It would have made more sense to have Maleficent regret and try to find her and change things. This was such an immediate change. The same day they moved in!
      When you have a classic you have a responsibility to be honorable to the original at least in tone and characters. To just change everything so much really made me mad. Sigh…oh well I’m glad you and so many of my friends enjoyed it.

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    3. Maleficent is the Mistress of all Evil. That’s why she is considered one of the greatest if not THE greatest Disney VILLLAIN! She is not yet another woman whose life was ruined by the abuse of some dude. She is the one who puts dudes into her dungeons for hundred of years because she gets a kick out of it! She is the one who controls all the powers of HELL and turns into a dragon. This movie is an insult to her, to the three fairies (who are three great Disney heroines) and on top of it it makes Aurora stupid. And you can say about what you want about Aurora’s lack of screentime in the original movie, but she was never portrayed as stupid.

      And even if you ignore all that and see Maleficent independent from all this…there is nothing good about this movie. It is an insulting story about a woman who gets victimized by a man. Because we didn’t have enough of them already.

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      1. I agree! You can tell the villains story but she needs to remain the villain. What they did isnt a prequel but a remake and the worst kind of remake.

        I really did try to approach it with an open mind but I didnt find much to like. I agree the broken heart Stefan plotline so didn’t work. Like you said she is a she-devil. The mistress of evil and here at her worse she curses someone to fall asleep and be saved by true loves kiss. Not the mistress of evil to me? The ending didn’t work because it wasn’t earned. No real sense of victory when evil or obstacles hasnt been built up. I agree turning Maleficent into a victim was such an obnoxious cliche.

        The love and bond between Maleficent annd Aurora never felt real and it didnt make sense.

        Maleficent doesn’t even turn into the dragon and die! Phillip is practically nonexistent which sucks. The ending for Aurora didnt work either because we hadnt gotten to know her. In the original we at least saw her dance and sing. Sigh…

        I thought you refused to see it?

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      2. The sad part is these terrible movies keep making money so we will keep seeing them. I blame Wicked and Tim Burton

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  2. What really bothers me is that they took the movie I consider as one of the most feminist in Disney canon (if you see the three fairies as main protagonists) and butchered into yet another story about a woman abused by a man. Yeah, thank your for THAT Disney.

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    1. I agree! Plus they turned any obstacles and excitement in the story and made it so bland. They ruined my favorite prince too!

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      1. I hate it when people think the key to feminism is taking the masculine out of men. The men in this movie were so lame. The two kings in the original are drunks and kind of unnecessary but so much better than these men.

        When Aurora comes back in the original you feel such longing on the part of her parents. She’s finally returned. And then when she is pricked and sleeping and the fairies and everyone are crying it’s one of the most heart wrenching Disney moments. Nothing moved me even close to that here. It was all too lukewarm.

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      2. Interesting comments here about this movie. I totally agree with you that this movie absolutely spits upon all the the very things that made the original so amazing. Maleficent is evil. She is the devil on earth. There is no good in her, and that’s how it was supposed to be. No tragic back story is necessary.

        The fairies were one of my favorite parts of the original, too. Now they are totally lame.

        Plus, I think it is interesting you mention feminism and “victims” in this new version. I had never thought of the original being a “feminist” movie, but they do have strong females leads along with the stong male portrayals. In this new version, you mention females being “victims,” while my number one impression leaving the theater was that the film’s implicit theme was “All men are liars, are evil d-bags, and are incapable of true love. Girl power.” Turns out neither men or women can be really happy with the portrayal of the sexes in this new version.

        And also, you mention the “Frozen” ending and twist. Yes, it happened better in that movie, but it bother me a little in both these movies because didn’t Disney already do that same thing a few years ago with “Enchanted?” Enchanted has some of the same themes (falling in love instantly, true love from somewhere you weren’t expecting, etc.). I like the way it shakes out in Frozen and Enchanted, but this movie just made me groan, because it was the final nail in the coffin to the worthlessness of men in this movie’s world.

        What a lame movie.

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      3. Totally lame. That’s a good point about Enchanted. Hadnt thought of that although she is still saved by a true loves kiss from a man in that movie.

        I was going into Maleficent thinking it was a prequel to the original but it’s not. It’s a remake. It really has almost nothing to do with the original. I don’t know why they went that way? I guess your enjoyment of it depends on your love of the original which it making my top 10 tells you I like it a lot.

        But even with that caveat it isnt a good movie. As you say the men are so lame and the women instead of being strong are weak. It’s not a man power or a girl power movie just a everyone is bland movie. I hated the cgi look of it.

        I don’t know what Disney was thinking!

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  3. It annoys me how movies like this and Oz The Great And Powerful use having your heart broken as an easy device for becoming evil.

    Was this film still being made before Frozen came out? I wonder if anyone involved with Maleficent was aware of the Frozen plot and realised that they were pretty much using the same concept at the end.

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    1. They had to have known. Certainly when they were editing they knew. Frozen’s unique ending was earned this was not. The problem was they should have just told the story of how Maleficent turned bad not tried to make her permanently good. That required such a radical rewrite of everything we love about the character and original movie that it ticked me off.

      And I totally agree about Oz the Great and Powerful and turning the strong female villains into a victim love. Grrrrr

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      1. What strikes me the most about this film is how little effort is put into it, at least regarding the script and story. There is no effort to make the setting interesting: the opening narration just tells us that the human world is mean and greedy and the fairy world is sunshine and rainbows. There is no effort to flesh out Maleficent’s relationship with Stefan: it’s glossed over in a montage. There is no effort to make the characters complex: Stefan’s just ambitious and evil, the three fairies are just bumbling idiots, and Maleficent gets forced into whatever mode the story requires her to be in. Whoever wrote this just couldn’t be bothered to make a good story – they couldn’t even be bothered to consider that maybe a supposedly good young fairy shouldn’t have born with a name that means “evil”.

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      2. I so agree with everything you said. And yet what I don’t get is why it was so well received? Even people who dont have an attachment to Sleeping Beauty I would think could see the lazy script, preposterous behavior by the faeries and the dull villain and yet at the peoples choice awards it got Best Picture! I dont get it? It didnt even look that great. I’ve seen that kind of CGI world so many times. Why America!

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