Some of you may remember my post about ”Evil” Characters where I talked about the importance (and my obsession) with complicated, layered villains. If not, read it after you finish this post.
Anyway, “I must say, I felt quite” elated to hear about this movie. I mean, come on, it’s Angelina Jolie playing the “Mistress of All Evil” and mother of Disney Villains. Like the star, I never identified with Aurora. She sleeps for more than half the film and has fewer words (sung and spoken) than Maleficent according to this awesome post about why the character Maleficent is amazing. (search “words” and read the paragraph in this article).
I loved this movie. It was a visual spectacle, Angelina’s performance blew me away, and the plot was moving (albeit different from the animated Disney film). In all actuality, Maleficent was more along the lines of the original Sleeping Beauty tales (minus the princess becoming impregnated in her sleep—Disney does have a reputation to keep) where the “Evil Fairy” has agency (which back then was considered bad). You can read a whole history lesson on that.
One of my favorite YouTube reviewers, Grace of Beyond the Trailer, said that this was another example of Linda Woolverton’s feminist agenda… I don’t necessarily agree. Strong women do not necessarily equate to feminism in the sense of an angry woman protesting all the sins of men (although there certainly is that aspect in the movie).
As a PG film, even the darkest elements of this film remained brief. I do agree with Grace in her wish that we got to see the iconic villain we loved from the animated film. Again, the audience is treated to some episodes of her reveling in the terror she causes, but not as much as I would have liked. Which goes back to the film’s relation to its Disney source material.
The marketing team portrayed this film as the classic told from Maleficent’s perspective. And while it is her story, it is not merely a flip-side account of the animated tale where Maleficent curses Aurora, Aurora goes to live in a cottage, meets a prince, falls asleep, prince fights & kills dragon. The two really only overlap as far as the curse, Aurora’s life in the cottage, and meeting Prince Phillip in the woods. People who were expecting a Disney-fied Wicked (where the reputation of the Wicked Witch is false, but the events still seemingly happen) will be somewhat disappointed. I can’t blame them for that. But, if you take it as an adaptation, not a “retelling” as they kept saying in all the promos and interviews, then one will thoroughly enjoy this new Disney masterpiece.