Thursday, May 29, 2014

MOVIES IN REVIEW - MALEFICENT

WICKEDLY GOOD




When I had first heard that Disney was working on Maleficent I was thrilled, yet a little skeptic. Growing up Sleeping Beauty (1959) was one of my favorite Disney Animated movies. I could sing you all of the songs and (when I was younger) could probably recite the movie word for word (or just nearly). Either way, Maleficent is a quintessential Villainess. From the time you first met her on-screen you knew she was wicked and terrifying. So my skepticism was in the form of who they would cast as the iconic characters. I've never been a huge Angelina Jolie fan, neither for Elle Fanning. However, after watching this movie I might just change my mind on a few things.

****SPOILERS****

This rendition of the Sleeping Beauty tale takes us through a different perspective as Aurora herself is the narrator and tells us the tale. Just like the title, the movie is all about Maleficent; she's more than just a villain - if you want to call her that anymore either. This rendition Maleficent is a rare fairy who lives in an enchanted kingdom. If my memory serves me correctly, their side of the kingdom is referred to as the 'Moores'. The other side of the kingdom is ruled by a greedy King who desires to acquire the rest of the kingdom for his own. Not on Maleficent's watch! She swoops down and calls upon her enchanted friends and they are fierce and drive those pesky humans away.

Maleficent introducing herself to the King's army...

Before all that nonsense however, when Maleficent is much younger, she meets Stefan. They're both orphans and seem to have an instant connection. But, Stefan gets greedy and spends less and less time with Maleficent. She only grows stronger though and hence, is able to lead the greedy King away along with his army. This leaves the King scornful, he calls for her head and instructs a room full of men (who are ready to take his throne once he has perished) whomever brings him the head of Maleficent would gain his throne and his daughter. Stefan, realizing he has an advantage, goes to see his old friend Maleficent. He couldn't kill her, and didn't get her head; rather, he cut off her wings. 

A young Maleficent meeting the thieving Stefan for the first time...

His actions corrupt sending Maleficent into darkness where she seeks her revenge. She enlists the help of a crow, who she saves his life and can easily use her magic to turn him into a human - to easily converse - and also into whatever form that best suites her needs (although he doesn't prefer dogs). I think this was a nice mirror of the Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and her pet crow that flew around keeping watch on things. In Maleficent she manipulated the Crow to replace her wings; she could no longer fly, so she needed the aerial perspective.  Diaval (the crow) kept an eye on Stefan, who was now King, and kept reporting back to Maleficent, as she grew darker into descent, she claimed a throne of her own within her realm as well. Then, when Diaval reported the birth of Stefan's daughter... she sees the prospect of a perfect revenge.

"I need you to be my wings" Maleficent to Diaval

This scene was really important for me, while the beginning was explaining more about Maleficent and a deeper story, this scene was important because from here is where Sleeping Beauty really is that iconic scene in my head. Jolie delivered such a realization that it gave me goose bumps up and down my arms while I was watching it! This was the definitive moment - could Angelina deliver? YES! It wasn't exactly like the movie, but they took parts and then added their own - and created some awesome scenes. The smile, the maniacal laugh, down to the sentence "Listen, all of you..." these things made me smile from ear to ear knowing that this was a rendition of a beloved Disney classic.

"I too would like to bestow a gift..." Yikes!

What I didn't quite expect was what happened afterward. The plot stayed pretty close, the three fairies take Aurora to a secluded part of the forest to raise her until her 16th birthday. In Sleeping Beauty they renamed Aurora, Briar Rose and the three fairies were Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Maleficent's three fairies are more like bickering adolescents and the scary part is that they are charged with raising a princess. Maleficent sees this and under the radar take the reins. When baby Aurora is hungry, she feeds her. As a toddler, when a very young Aurora runs off of a high cliff, she saves her. Over the years Maleficent takes care of her and when she tries to revoke her enchantment or curse, it can't be stopped.

Flittle, Knotgrass and Thistletwit

This is definitely a different take on a classic tale. We do get to see Prince Phillip and Aurora meet for the first time, however it's nothing like how they met in Sleeping Beauty. Aurora isn't singing in the forest with her woodland animal friends pretending to be a prince. In Maleficent she's practicing what she is going to say to her 'Aunties' (the fairies) because she wants to stay with Maleficent (who she calls her fairy godmother - a hilarious scene)... when low and behold, a handsome prince just happens upon her in the secluded forest. He is looking for King Stefan's castle and he's lost. She points the way and they agree that he'll stop by again. In Sleeping Beauty Prince Phillip has a much larger role as Aurora's 'loves first kiss' savior. In Maleficent there is a totally different spin - that I love. I wasn't sure I liked it at first, but after Jolie's scene I was completely convinced. 

What's meant to be - will be...

My boyfriend went a long with me and usually he ends up falling asleep during most movies. He stayed awake through out the entire film and even truly enjoyed it himself. There are so many different aspects within this one movie that there is definitely something that everyone can enjoy. Overall, I would say spend the money (for us it was $22 for two adults) and go check out this wickedly good movie! 

One of my favorite images with Angelina as Maleficent
and her daughter as a young Aurora...

While I thoroughly enjoyed Angelina Jolie's portrayal of Maleficent - she did do an amazing job. I had my doubts with Elle Fanning. While I understand her character was given the gift of always being happy, I thought her portrayal was minimum. I know there are Elle Fanning fans out there and I'm sure she's lovely. However, Aurora to me is still within the classic Sleeping Beauty. She didn't capture her elegance, her beauty or her charm (to me, my opinion). I'm still not a fan is all I'm saying. She didn't ruin the movie - I still think it's a great movie. I'm just saying for the things that I didn't particularly care for, she was one of them. I adored the scenes with Jolie's character interacting with all the different aged Aurora's (the toddler was her own daughter). There is a lot of endearments through out the movie; how she refers to Aurora as "Beastie", I love the new rendition of Maleficent. A definitely must see.




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