Maleficent was a film I anticipated greatly; I love fairy tales, and this was an intriguing premise. However, it played like one huge eyeroll, suited much better to a response of snarky comments than to awe or enjoyment.
The plot claimed to be Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of it’s great villain, Maleficent, and it was not. The film changed the whole plot of Sleeping Beauty in order to make Maleficent a good guy, and that was possibly it’s greatest failing; it was much too safe. The beginning was good, showing the back story and the motivation behind Maleficent’s actions and her bitterness. But as the film progressed, it felt like it was working incredibly hard to redeem her when surely the point was that she WAS a villain and HAD done bad stuff and to show it from her perspective rather than just change her character all together. It was incredibly disappointing, as it all felt like build up to an unsatisfying anti-climax. Sleeping Beauty’s sleep – which is supposed to last 100 years – is over in about five minutes. The ending was also greatly changed in a multitude of ways (LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS) as true loves kiss turned out to be a maternal kiss from Maleficent, and Maleficent never died and lived happily ever after in her moors now that humans and fairies are united – YAWN. I have never eye rolled more than Maleficent’s “true love kiss” to aurora, which not only seemed unlikely due to the rest of the film, but was an obvious copy from Frozen, a film which did it much more successfully. The happy ending was not only a change from the actual plot, but was incredibly lame, like the majority of this film actually. Furthermore, there are two ways that fairy tales can work; by amping up the comedy and romance a la Mirror Mirror, or by making it an action paced adaptation a la Snow White and the Huntsman, and whilst Maleficent seemed to want to be both, it failed in being either.
Onto the characterisation;
Maleficent – This film is obviously about a further delving into Maleficent character – but I didn’t feel like we got that at all. All we got was an interesting character with moral complexities turned into a “good guy” through love for Aurora *pukes into bucket*. It did nothing to challenge the black and white characterisation of the earlier film – as other people were transformed into the villains in order to take Maleficent place – and this irritated me, as if you promise an anti-hero, then that’s what I want. Angelina Jolie’s English accent was also slightly odd, but I will say that there were some great parts of the film, when she’s making snarky comments along the lines of “Beastie. I hate you.” – Hatred is always so much more amusing than love when it comes to cinema.
Aurora – Oh god. This film suffers from the fact that it is adapted from the Disney film Sleeping Beauty, a movie created before they realised that character should have, you know, personalities, and whilst the film thought it fine to deviate from the original movie in many aspects, it did not change Aurora’s bland, irritating personality. This was only added to by the dreadful Elle Fanning, who can not act and even more than that, can not handle a British accent in the slightest (the insistence of films, which are actually set in France (where Sleeping Beauty is set) to have the actors, who are almost always American, to put on a British accent irritates me to no end.) Aurora’s character was so insufferable that I thought it incredibly unlikely that Maleficent’s time spent with her would prompt her to save her from her fate rather than attempt to bring it forward – less screen time for Aurora would not have been so bad.
Stefan – all I can say is WHAT A DICK. Also, once again, his Scottish accent was terrible.
This film is hugely disappointing, and honestly whilst it was mildly enjoyable and maybe worth catching on tv when it comes on, I would not recommend spending your money on it. I’d give it a 5.5 out of 10.
(Also, why do film companies keep spending huge amounts of money making films like this, when what is obviously needed is the film version of Wicked – now that is how a fairy tale from the perspective of a villain should be done.)