Maleficent

This movie had a lot against it in my opinion. I’ve never been a huge fan of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (#BeautyandtheBeast4lyfe!) and I get tired of villains being made sympathetic. Sometimes evil really is just evil. But this retelling worked, for the most part.

First the bad:

  • The Moors, where Maleficent lives, looks a bit like it was taken from the latest straight-to-DVD Tinkerbell release. It’s sugary bright and seems unsuited for the tone of the movie which, yes, is family-friendly, but that doesn’t need to mean it looks like a cartoon.
  •  I understand the idea behind this movie is that we’ve been told the wrong story. But the main character’s name is Maleficent, her assistant’s name is Diaval, she has big devil horns, and her wings look like they came straight from a gigantic bird of prey. Either she’s a villain, or the deck’s been stacked against her in a big way.
  • Aurora is under the curse for all of what, an hour? While I understand the need to continue the plot of the story, it’s hard to take the curse seriously when we know she’s not going to be fighting it long.

Now the good:

  • I don’t like Angelina Jolie. All I can think when I see her is the absolutely crazy (bad crazy, not fun crazy!) antics she used to perform pre-Brad Pitt and motherhood. But she somehow fits perfectly in this role, both as good Maleficent and bad (that mouth!).
  • Goodness. That wing stealing scene is brutal (in the best way?!). It’s a powerful and absolutely believable back story to the bad Maleficent. Not only has the best part of her physically been stolen, but her heart has truly been broken, by the loss of her wings and a betrayal from the man she loved and thought loved her in return.
  • But love! The great redeemer. And not romantic love. We meet Prince Phillip, but he only meets Aurora once before the curse takes effect and while there’s an obvious attraction, his kiss does not break the spell. SPOILER It’s Maleficent! She watches over Aurora from birth and even before learning to love the little princess, Maleficent begins her redemption by caring for Aurora. It’s lovely and not entirely unexpected, but still nice to see this recent theme in movies and TV that non-romantic love is just as valuable and powerful as romantic love.

What did you think?

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4 thoughts on “Maleficent

  1. jubilare says:

    I had a hard time with the representation of the humans versus the fay… it begged the question of why try for peace in any way shape or form with humanity, if humanity is always (or almost always) in the bad and the wrong, and the fay are always good? It’s been a while since I watched it, but only Maleficent seemed a “bad faerie” at any point, and she had her reasons. The humans, on the other hand, are (except for the one raised by fairies and the unexplained prince) selfish, greedy, ambitious and violent. I think this relates to the “sugary sweetness” you mention in regards to the Moors.
    In changing the perception of one villain, in showing her sympathetically, the film-creators only shifted the true villainy elsewhere, making someone else “Evul!” While this is, in some ways, interesting, it is also as problematic as the simplistic evil of the original Maleficent.

    I liked much of what you liked, though, and enjoyed the film despite my issues in this regard.

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    • Mary says:

      It was unfortunate that we only saw 4 fairies really- Maleficent and the silly trio that raised Aurora. That trio raised a lot of questions as well: How did they know about the christening? Were they friends with the Queen? If Maleficent was ruling over them at that point, why did they leave the Moors at all? And in regards to the real villain, Stefan, it would have been interesting if we could have seen more of his transformation. It was quite a jump to see him go from friend of Maleficent to trying to kill her.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Briana says:

    I haven’t seen this film because, like you, I’m not generally a fan of making villains sympathetic. It seems to cheapen the original version of the story in some way. I don’t want to watch Sleeping Beauty with the idea that it’s “wrong” in the back of my mind. Plus, Maleficent has always been the ultimate Disney villain. As you mention, the devil imagery is very strong. Now, suddenly, she’s just misunderstood???

    I do think your review makes it sound as if the movie has some good qualities, though. Perhaps I will watch it someday!

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    • Mary says:

      I would recommend watching it! But I think it works better if you look at it as a stand alone movie- maybe as another version of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale- and not as a companion to Disney’s animated Sleeping Beauty.

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