I am not ashamed to admit that at twenty-eight years of age I still consider myself to be growing up with Disney. I know the characters, I know the songs and I have literally gone out and bought the tee-shirts. The idea of retelling the story of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent’s point of view was intriguing and the casting of Angelina Jolie seemed almost genius, but despite this, the trailer arrived and I could not muster up any interest. I tried.
PLOT: A young Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) falls in love with a lowly farm boy named Stefan (Sharlto Copley). Stefan’s ambitions get in the way and he steals Maleficent’s wings so that he can be king. Maleficent gets her revenge by placing a curse on his daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning). END PLOT
The story is essentially the familiar tale of Sleeping Beauty with the roles reversed. Maleficent becomes the anti-hero and King Stefan becomes the inexplicably insane villain. It was always going to play out in this manner but the script lacked the capability to make the story flow in anything other than the most predictable and mundane way.
The poor writing was most noticeable during the section in which Maleficent lost her wings. Stefan drugging the wine and cutting off Maleficent’s wings followed by Angelina Jolie’s screams when she awoke created a very unsubtle, and frankly, uncomfortable comparison to date rape. There could be no other way for an adult to watch this ill-conceived scene.
Angelina Jolie is really the only person you could cast as the title character and she can hold her head high. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Jolie on screen and I forgot just how engaging she can be. Elle Fanning does nothing but break out the big smile as and when required but she fares much better in the accent department than Sharlto Copley. I have heard Copley speak in many accents and fail at most.
The three fairies – Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and the always wonderful Juno Temple were excellent and the most entertaining part of the film. This of course means that their screen time was the most limited.
The special effects were inline with the quality expected from a big budget film but were as uninspiring as the script. The Ents were a big moment in 2002 but shoehorning walking and talking trees into a fantasy film twelve years later is in no way an impressive achievement.
Disney appears to be following a formula of nabbing a headlining star then throwing lots of colour and quirky creatures into a blender and mixing up a distinctly average film that makes a billion at the Box Office. I am tipping my hat at Disney with one hand but giving them the finger with the other.
I would of had more respect for the film if one of the greatest villains in history didn’t have an origin story which stems from her wings being stolen by a man. It cheapened an iconic character for a quick buck. It may be cynical but Frozen’s success was due to the fact that it struck a chord with the adult members of the audience not the children. Maleficent will do no such thing. It doesn’t deserve to.
Maleficent gets 3/10. I feel sorry for Angelina Jolie for giving her all in such an appalling film.