Friday, May 30, 2014

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie is Magnificent (Spoiler Free)

Disney has created many wonderful animated movie, fully of memorable characters, some good some evil.  One of the most memorable characters from a Disney movie - Sleeping Beauty - is Maleficent, the villain of that story.  On May 30, 2014, the live action movie Maleficent was released.

I am only going to briefly discuss the plot of Maleficent.  I will probably mention some things that could be spoilers for people who haven’t seen Sleeping Beauty or who don’t know the story. 

** Minor Plot Discussion **
A young and powerful fairy, Maleficent, lives in the magical land of The Moors which is next to a human kingdom.  The two lands do not get along and the people of each have no contact with each other.  One day Maleficent meets a boy, Stefan and they develop a friendship that lasts for years.  Stefan eventually betrays her in order to be named the next king.  Maleficent turns darker which causes changes to The Moors.  When she learns that Stefan, now the king, has a daughter, Maleficent shows up uninvited and curses Aurora.  Maleficent and Stefan spend the next sixteen years dealing with the consequences of the curse.
** End of Minor Plot Discussion **

Maleficent is being shown in 3D and 2D.  I ended up seeing the movie in 3D because of when the show times were.  The 3D is more subtle, which could disappoint some viewers.  It mainly adds depth to the various scenes, especially the ones set outside.  There really aren’t any images coming out of the screen, something else that could be disappointing to some people.  Personally, I like when that is done in 3D and think it looks cool.  There are definitely points in the movie when that could have been done.

This movie is based on Disney’s animated Sleeping Beauty as well as a few fairytale versions of the story.  I have seen the animated movie several times - it is actually one of my favorites - but I have never read any of the fairytales.  The movie is definitely connected to the animated movie, telling the same main story focused on Maleficent instead of Aurora, but there are differences as well.  Some people may not like the differences or that certain things have been changed.  I really enjoyed the movie and like the different take on the character.  I guess I am able to look at this as a different version of the story, so I am able to appreciate the changes the story take.  Other people may not be able to do that.  I have had issues with that sort of thing in other movies, but I think it works well this time.

The movie starts by showing Maleficent as a child before showing the betrayal that ultimately causes her to curse Aurora.  I have always thought that Maleficent was intriguing, so I have been interested in seeing this movie since I first heard about it.  A few younger versions of her are briefly shown early in the movie.  She is an adult for the majority of the movie.  I had thought that her horns were just part of a headdress when watching the animated movie.  This movie shows that the horns are part of her.  Younger versions of Aurora are in a few scenes, with the older version seen the most for her too.  Slightly different versions of other characters from Sleeping Beauty turn up as well, including King Stefan, who is shown at different ages.  Versions of Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather appear as well, though they have different names - Knotgrass, Thistletwit, and  Flittle - and they are pixies.  I remember them being called fairies in the animated movie.  I think the story is straightforward and makes sense, though others may not agree.  It is interesting and entertaining.  The story is somewhat dark, so parents should keep that in mind when making a choice for this movie.  It is possible that some people won’t think that the movie is dark enough.

Special effects are used throughout Maleficent to show magic different characters use as well as to show fairies, pixies, and other magical creatures of The Moors flying.  Certain parts of the movie wouldn’t have worked without the special effects.  They were done well overall, though one thing seemed a little off or odd.  The pixies start off small and then later in the movie they make themselves human size to blend in.  When they are small, something with their heads look a little off.  Action turns up in some scenes as well without making the movie action packed. 

The characters are interesting overall, though some of them, like the Queen, are barely shown and have no development.  The pixies seem to mean well, but they are far from the best caretakers for a child.  Stefan seems to be nice at first, but his ambition takes over, twisting him into someone different.  Aurora is shown to be sweet, loving, curious, kind, and gentle even though she doesn’t receive as much development.  In this version of the story, she is more of a supporting character.  Elle Fanning is good in the part.  Diaval is a crow who becomes Maleficent’s servant when she saves him.  She uses magic to transform him into a man or any other creature that would be helpful in a situation.

This version of Maleficent is much more complex than the version from the animated movie.  While that version is one of the great Disney villains, she really is kind of flat.  That is not the case here.  She starts off kind and trusting before she is betrayed.  She is justifiably angry while also showing a softer side every so often.  Angelina Jolie is absolutely stunning and magnificent as Maleficent.  She is perfect in the part and makes the movie.  I honestly don’t think anyone else could have portrayed this character.  I know that some people don’t care for Jolie, so those people may want to avoid this movie.

Maleficent is a very entertaining movie that gives a different take on a classic Disney movie.  Some may not like that difference, but I think it is well worth checking out.  Angelina Jolie is absolutely magnificent as Maleficent.

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