Let’s be honest. Maleficient isn’t really a ‘remake’ or a ‘new way of telling an old story’. It is 90 minutes of film that does its hardest to be the prettiest 90 minutes of your life. CGI, costumes and Angelina Jolie in all its glory. If I was expecting anything more than I would have been sorely disappointed. Luckily, I wasn’t.
Based on the disney classic, Sleeping Beauty, Maleficient tells the much-loved story from the perspective of the villain – except in this version she isn’t an evil witch, but simply a girl who has her heart broken by a man obsessed with power and ambition (typical). When she is still young, Maleficient, who lives in the magical world of the Moors, meets and falls in love with Stefan, a peasant boy who dreams of becoming king of all the humans. Years later, after they have drifted apart, Stefan learns that he can become the new king if he kills Maleficient, who is now an enemy to the human race. He pretends to protect her, only to poison her and steal her wings. When she wakes up, mutilated and alone, she swears revenge. It isn’t until years later that she is able to exact it – by cursing Stefan’s daughter.
This film is basically an ode to Angelina Jolie’s beauty. Which is cool with me, because I find her pretty amazing and could probably stare at her face all day (and constantly muse over what makeup she is using throughout this film). While the CGI is very pretty, and the costumes impressive, it is still just a film that makes everyone sigh over how lovely she is. Basically, if you aren’t a fan of Angelina Jolie, this film would be the worst.
In terms of acting, aside from Jolie, it’s all pretty bland. Elle Fanning plays Aurora, and while she is pretty, she also comes across insipid and rather dull, leaving me wondering what made her so appealing to Maleficient. Sharlto Copley plays King Stefan, and although he is meant to be evil and insane, he was no match for Maleficient’s quiet, burning anger. Plus his accent (I think Scottish?) went from one end of the spectrum to the other. Not great.
Also, while I like the idea of ‘women saving women’, I don’t think it was particularly well done in Maleficient, and that’s because they dulled down the evilness of her character. In the original Sleeping Beauty, as my friend aptly informed me after the film, Maleficient plans her revenge down to a science – she even locks up Prince Charming for 100 years so that when he does rescue Aurora, she’ll be sixteen and he’ll be at his grave. In this modern adaptation however, we’re left with a Maleficient who tries to revenge her ex-lover, only to fall in love with the girl herself. While I’m sure it wasn’t the point of the film, it did irk me that it reinforces the cliche that women have to be represented as loving, maternal or beautiful – in this case, Jolie was all three. Can’t we just have a film where a woman is truly evil, she gets her way and that’s that? Sure, it doesn’t send the best moral message, but it would be far more entertaining than the tired old formula of a woman who has her heartbroken and then redeems herself by falling in love, again. Yawn.
This film probably isn’t worth the $15 cinema ticket, but I got what I wanted out of it. I was hoping for 90 minutes of lovely Angelina Jolie viewing, complete with outrageous outfits and you know, a touch of a storyline, and that’s what I got. Will it disappoint fans of the original Maleficient? Yes. Could it have been far better if they’d spent as much time on the storyline as they did on Jolie’s makeup? Definitely. But you win some and you lose some.
And seriously, I want to know what lipstick she wore in that film.
Have you seen Maleficient? Did you enjoy it? Are you a fan of the classic? Let me know!