Maleficent – Movie Review
Director: Robert Stromberg
Writers: Linda Woolverton, Charles Perrault (based from the story “La Belle au bois dormant” by), Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm (based from the story “Little Briar Rose” by), Erdman Penner (based from the motion picture “Sleeping Beauty”, story adaptation by), Joe Rinaldi &
Winston Hibler & Bill Peet & Ted Sears & Ralph Wright & Milt Banta (based from the motion picture “Sleeping Beauty”, screenplay by)
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple
Maleficent is an incredibly gorgeous movie. The costumes (especially everything Angelina Jolie wears), the sets, the cinematography–all woven together in a gorgeous canvas. I so wanted to love this one. But it jumped the shark about twenty minutes along and never looked back. The overall story felt forced and flat, and I left the theater missing that feeling I could conquer the world that I usually have after a feel-good movie.
To begin at the beginning, Maleficent is Disney’s retelling of their classic (1959) version of Sleeping Beauty, retconning the Big Bad into . . . something else. The basic idea for the movie is sound enough, but it fails in the plot details. Trying to keep things close to what happened in the original film didn’t lend itself all that well to being reversed. Maleficent is one of Disney’s best designed villains–you so love to hate her–consequently, it was hard to identify with her as the woman-done-wrong and find evil elsewhere.
Maleficent does get a complex character arc, with lots and lots of (too much) angelic imagery, but everything she does is reactive. She is a female protagonist in a male-dominated world. She is very strong (her powers are never really defined), so she can defeat most challenges with a wave of her hand. There were several points where she had difficulties that she solved just a few moments later by trying really hard, because it was convenient for the plot. I could only find three things that her magic was unable to do, and none of them made much sense.