Director: Robert Stromberg
Writer: Linda Woolverton (screenplay), Charles Perrault and Disney (story and characters)
Released: May 2014
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville
I had disregarded Maleficent as a boring and unnecessary retelling of a well-known fairytale. But I asked around and heard such positive reviews about it, so I decided to give it a chance especially because Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourites and Maleficent is about the ‘baddie’ of that tale.
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a powerful fairy who lives in a land adjacent to a town. One day, she meets a human man called Stefan (Michael Higgins (child), Jackson Bews (teen)) and they fall in love. Unfortunately, they drift apart because Stefan is all like, ‘I want power, money and control; I’m going get a job in our local castle’. But she’s like, ‘oh no, I’m heartbroken’.
Years later, Stefan returns to Maleficent’s land as an adult (Sharlto Copley). He pretends to be in love with her still, but actually he’s their at the request of the king to kill Maleficent in order to govern her fairy land. Stefan doesn’t have the heart to kill her, but he does burn her wings off.
She’s pissed about this.
So she enlists the help of a crow (Sam Riley) to watch the castle as Stefan eventually becomes king, gets married and has his first child: Aurora. And the rest is history.
What I love is that Maleficent turns into a jealousy-fuelled, hardened bitch, just like any human would if they were heartbroken. I love this about her character; it’s quite comical. It reminds me of the resentment carried by Charlize Theron in Young Adult.
This story is full of feminist themes and ‘girl-power’ – specifically the part where the spell is no longer broken by a handsome prince’s kiss (very similar to Frozen actually). While I get that Disney is trying to move with the times, I would like to make it clear that as a woman I would not be offended by a princess falling in love with a handsome man and living happily ever after.
In addition to this, while I’m happy for films to have feminist themes, I don’t think that should necessarily mean that men in the story should be demonised as a result. Not only is King Stefan’s actions the sole reason behind Maleficent’s curse, but the handsome Prince Phillip (Brenton Thwaites) is powerless in this version of the story.
Prince Phillip: I’m looking for a girl.
Maleficent: Of course you are.
Nevertheless, I appreciate this is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the enemy. Which, is an inspiring tale – there really are two sides to every story.
The film looks very much like a stage show with unrealistic landscapes, which I personally didn’t like because I couldn’t lose myself in the story.
But the casting was well done. Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones were the star of the show, and her portrayal of a vengeful woman was brilliant, even funny at times.
[Maleficent is magically healing damaged trees in the woods]
[Maleficent turns around to see a smiling toddler Aurora]
Maleficent: Go away.
[Aurora walks closer to Maleficent]
Maleficent: Go. Go away.
[Aurora hugs Maleficent]
Maleficent: I don’t like children.
Sharlto Copley is still playing the most terrifying characters in film. And, Aurora (Elle Fanning) was annoyingly perfect, but the three fairy godmothers did bestow her with permanent happiness and beauty, so I guess that’s not the actor’s fault for having zero emotion.
I love the idea of having the story told from the baddie’s point-of-view. I hope to see more fairytales told in this way. I’m looking forward to Cruella de Vil actually. It’s in pre-production and stars Emma Stone as the famous villain.
But overall, I found the fake environment difficult to accept, and the large step away from the traditional storyline was a bit disappointing… I’m still in love with the love story of the 1959 Sleeping Beauty.
Also, the horses didn’t play a large enough role for my liking.
Let’s keep an eye-out for Maleficent 2 though! It’s currently being filmed.
Jodie’s rating: 4/10