Friday, May 30, 2014


Maleficent is Disney's new take on Sleeping Beauty. During the trailers, I was wondering who they thought their target audience was. I'm still wondering. This is a PG movie which is a bit dark for the kids and not quite sophisticated enough to satisfy me. I enjoyed it, but it is not fantastic.

The film does have a number of good points. Foremost among these are the visuals. The movie just looks amazing. There are lots of long shots of beautiful scenery, and the creature effects are mostly excellent. As always, attempting to make live actors actually interact with animation is a bit awkward, but most people probably won't notice.

Angelina Jolie is quite good in the title role, and her makeup is great. Elle Fanning is really very pretty as Aurora. However, I had some problems with both of their characters, and with several others, which detracted from the movie.

The character of Maleficent is tricky - she's a villain, but she's also the main character, and her arc is the whole point of re-making the story from this perspective. I found it hard to sympathize with her, though, since most of her problems were caused by her being naive, and then throwing an epic tantrum. She was close to being a great character, but was missing something.

Still, Maleficent is miles better as a character than anyone else in the movie. The three fairies are ridiculously dumb, and not in a good way. Aurora's chief feature (remarked upon several times) is her smile. Stefan is more crazy than anything else, but the movie never gets deep enough into him to make him interesting. That is the major flaw with the movie - the characters are all a bit (or a lot) shallow. For me, the most compelling character is Sam Riley's Diaval, and he's a sidekick.

Then there's the matter of the story itself, both the original and the villain-focused adaptation. Maleficent visually references Disney's own Sleeping Beauty on a number of occasions, but the story is too different to be just another perspective on the one we already know, as the narrator would like us to believe. In addition, the new movie's entire plot foundation rests on the existence of a human kingdom next to a fairy kingdom with a relationship between the two that defies all logic. And the original story on which both movies are based is not actually a very good one, even in the versions which don't involve the prince raping the unconscious girl.

In sum, the movie is beautiful but lacking in real substance. Still, I enjoyed it.

Performance: 3.5/5
Plot: 2/5
Production: 4.5/5
Overall: 3/5
Bechdel: Pass
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Pass
What are these?

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
3. Lone Survivor
4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
5. The Wind Rises
6. The Lego Movie
7. Lust For Love
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
9. Pompeii
10. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
11. Maleficent
12. I, Frankenstein
13. Monuments Men
14. Knights of Badassdom
15. Divergent
16. Brick Mansions
17. 300: Rise of an Empire
18. Godzilla
19. RoboCop
20. Winter's Tale
21. Transcendence
22. Noah
23. The Legend of Hercules
24. Need For Speed
25. 3 Days to Kill

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