Let’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.
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.
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.
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!!!!
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.
So 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.
Sorry 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.