The Disney movie Maleficent will be premiering world wide today but for myself, lucky enough to live in New York City, I was able to see it yesterday. And before I begin my review I just want to say how glad I am that I saw it yesterday so I can plan the next time (this weekend) I’ll be seeing it. Yes, it was that good. I also want to add, for those parents or guardians, wondering if this is appropriate for children under the age of 12? I’d say yes it is. There is about 2.5 fight scenes. One in the beginning a smaller one in the middle and one towards the end. I don’t recall any blood in those scenes and there is no bad language.
But let me warn you now, I will have spoilers sprinkled throughout this review so if you intend on seeing it this weekend I suggest you STOP READING from this point forward! Then once you have seen it, come back to this review and share with me in the merriment of just how great a film it was. If you’re still reading this that means you don’t plan on seeing the movie, in which case I’m sad for you, because I would rate this movie as being one of the best feel good movies of the year (to coin a phrase from actual movie critics)!
So why is this, in my humble opinion, the movie of the year? I mean, it is only May and I haven’t seen the next installment of the Transformers movie, or the 3rd Expendables movie, or for that matter, any of the vast number of already coined “feel good movie of the year” movies that have yet to come out! Quite frankly, I find it hard to believe that any of them will have the magic that this movie had. And when I say magic, you know I’m referring to Angelina Jolie. To say she owned this movie AND managed to steal the show as well is an understatement. It’s also a big thing for me that she was able to do both. Especially since most movies I’ve seen have had better acting performances by those who would be considered as the supporting cast! While Angelina Jolie did have an amazing ensemble, not least of which, Elle Fanning (whom I love equally as much as I do her role in We Bought a Zoo). And I will say the bit role that Angelina’s daughter plays as a very young Aurora was a humanizing moment for the character of Maleficent.
Basically, this story is NOTHING like the Disney animated Sleeping Beauty. It’s a bit weird because a fairy tale that was “disney-fied” was taken by Disney and redone to be bigger, badder, and better than ever! Let me explain, (SPOILER ALERT! <–one more time for those who kept reading even after I warned you NOT to if you intend on seeing this fairly recently and don’t want to know what happens!!) this movie takes us WAY back in time to when Maleficent is a child. Turns out she was rather sweet and loved nature and life. Now, Maleficent, some form of a fairy, along with other creatures, live in what is called the Moors, and they have no ruler above them, because they trust each other therefore they have no need for that kind of class system. On the other hand, across the way from that magical place is a kingdom, ruled by a King and Queen where nothing but fighting happens (for obvious, and some might be able to insinuate, politically driven reasons). Anyway, the humans who are fighting, blah blah blah, and the King hear about magic and such over in the Moors, that up till that moment they were all too scared to venture into. But when the possibility of more power comes into play the King doesn’t care. Suffice it to say a huge fight happens (this is about 15+ minutes into the movie). If you’ve seen the commercials you know which fight scene I’m referring to. But I’m jumping ahead.
You must be wondering, where exactly does Maleficent turn into the “evil queen” we all know her to be from the animated version? Well, while she is a child she meets a young boy (a human) who ventures into the Moors. They become fast friends. And of course, as adolescence and puberty goes, love blossoms. But Disney isn’t all THAT risqué about it! Instead the boy, Stefan, bestows upon Maleficent, true loves kiss. Aww…
Skipping ahead and back to that fight scene. Anywho, the humans get their butts kicked and the King, licking his wounds, says that whoever of his “sons” (not exactly sure that’s who they are, they might just be his soldiers) should slay the fairy (aka Maleficent) will be heir to the thrown. See, he’s dying after that battle that he lost in. Well, Stefan, who is madly in love with Maleficent, thinks he’s helping both sides if he drugs her and kills her. He’ll become king and all will be right with the world, right? Don’t worry he loves her too much to do that. Instead he takes her wings as proof that he killed her. He becomes King, which means he ends up marrying the Kings daughter (hence why I don’t think that is his son otherwise he’d be marrying his sister). That parts a bit fuzzy to me in the movie but whatever, go with me.
One of the best and also tragic scenes is when Maleficent wakes from being drugged and discovers she no longer has wings. She screams the kind of blood curttling scream I’ve never heard before. It’s very sad and in fact you do end up feeling sorry for her because you realize she is a victim of circumstance. What would you expect a person in her position to do? All her life she’s cared for the land and the creatures in the Moors. Minded her own business basically. She never intended on falling in love with a human, let alone one who would cut off her wings. How was she supposed to know he was doing it as a way to save her life? Well she befriends a raven (I thought he was a crow but what do I know of birds), and together they discover the birth of a baby girl, Aurora. The rest, or I should say, the next 30 minutes or so of the movie are pretty much identical to the animated version. The 3 ditzy fairy’s bring gifts of wishes to the baby and Maleficent gives her gift of a curse about pricking her finger on her 16th birthday and all that good stuff. The fairy’s take Aurora away for 16 years while King Stefan has ALL the spinning wheels everywhere destroyed.
This is where the movie gets EVEN BETTER! While Aurora is “hidden away” with the 3 fairy’s to be safe, Maleficent is close by being just as protective of her as the fairy’s are! Again, you realize that Maleficent doesn’t want to be cruel and evil, she just needed to enact some form of revenge on Stefan for violating her in such a way when he cut off her wings. Once Aurora is 15 she realizes the error of her ways and tries to remove the curse but it was so binding when she cast it that even she cannot break it. Only true loves kiss can break it.
Okay, okay, I’ve spoiled too much already! I won’t tell you what happens next cause you’ve got to see if for yourself to believe it. What I will say is I appreciated how this movie relies heavily on women and the men in the movie are but bit players. Even the raven who Maleficent turns into a man in order to save his life. I’m sure many women will fawn all over him cause he is quite cute if you like that young, rugged, yet devilishly handsome when unkempt look. The ending was really a show stopper for me. Mostly because it was such a happy ending. I will tell you that Maleficent does not get killed or die at the end of this movie. I was a little scared that she would because of all the other version of Sleeping Beauty. But Disney definitely took some liberties with how they chose to end this movie so differently from their own animated version.
I almost wish the animated Sleeping Beauty was told the way this one was, cause then it would have made it even better! Before I end this review, if you haven’t heard Lana Del Rey sing the iconic Sleeping Beauty song in a way that is chilling but equally as amazing, hear for yourself.
One last thing that I’m sure you all have noticed already: Never was there a role Angelina was born to play (including Tomb Raider) than that of Maleficent!