Growing up, most kids my age probably idolized Big Bird or Kermit the Frog – something cute and nice. When we got older, it was probably Ariel from The Little Mermaid or Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Not me.
When I was three, my mom said she would let me watch Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty but warned me that the witch was scary. I watched what I consider the most beautiful animated classic of all time, and it turns out Maleficent didn’t frighten me at all. She is easily my favorite Disney character. I had her on birthday cakes, dressed up like her for Halloween, and was her in my 5th grade play. To this day, I admire her cool elegance and calculating behavior – she isn’t a hothead like Cruella De Vil and certainly has more depth than the Evil Queen. I also find her subtly hilarious and gorgeous. She is the master of the sideways glance, just like yours truly. I often feel as if I am surrounded by fools, too. While Maleficent is super-evil, she is also very polite, which is something I can appreciate. She’s a classy broad. Like the Mistress of All Evil, I also didn’t get invited to the coolest parties, although I guess I got over it a little better than she did. To top it off, she has a pet raven named Diablo. That is freaking awesome!
Angelina Jolie was the perfect choice for the role, if anybody could do her justice on screen. Funny side note: When Eric I were in London in 2012, we actually ran into Angelina and Brad at the National Portrait Gallery right before filming for this movie commenced. We stood right next to them.
As for the film, I was entertained but ultimately disappointed. My whole issue is that I don’t think we needed a film on why Maleficent “became evil.” To be honest, the whole back-story is kind of weak. I was always down with the idea that she is just an evil lady and you better not screw with her. Like in society, we need to stop trying to rationalize evil and just accept that there are some bad people in the world. Ultimately, I should have known better.
First, the positive: Angelina was great within the confines of the role. Nobody could look the part quite like her, and she did a great job with the speech pattern. I loved her evil smile and brilliant white teeth. The shape-shifting raven character was interesting and added something to the film as well.
Now, onto the letdown. The screenwriters strayed far away from the original Sleeping Beauty story. This was a revisionist account that ultimately has Maleficent as the “hero.” Huh? Her name is Maleficent – look it up in the dictionary. First, I did not need the “young Maleficent” scenes. It would have been more satisfying to me if Satan had sent her up from Hell to wreak havoc on the world. Early in the film, there is a pointless Lord of the Rings-style battle sequence – don’t waste my time.
The actor playing King Stefan, the film’s main villain (ironic), is horribly miscast. I can’t beat around the bush; he’s horrendous. The three fairies charged with protecting Princess Aurora from Maleficent’s evil curse are complete nitwits. Seriously, there were the most annoying characters I’ve ever seen in a film (including Jar Jar Binks), and I don’t know why Disney let this happen. They made Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather look like they’re in Mensa. I wish Maleficent had zapped them with her staff. The 1959 character would have done so. Because of the fairies ineptitued, Maleficent assumes a “mother” role to young Aurora and grows to love her. She even tries to undo the curse.
As expected, Aurora succumbs to the curse but is in “deathlike sleep” for five minutes, tops. I cannot believe how easily this whole situation gets resolved. Prince Phillip only has a cameo at this point, and it’s not his kiss that awakens Aurora. The ending is just tied up too neatly. Without giving anything away, let’s just say everybody has a happy ending.
To add to my suffering, I hate Lana Del Ray’s droning, unmelodious rendition of Once Upon A Dream. The original version was the theme song at our wedding six years ago (I guess Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz, if you want to get technical).
Bottom line: This is not the “now you shall deal with me, oh prince, and all the powers of Hell” Maleficent from 1959. Only in the christening scene is she the Maleficent I know and love. People who love Maleficent don’t want to see a movie where she is soft almost the entire time. On the other hand, people who do not know Maleficent in the way I do (like she’s a real person), might enjoy the story.