Almost five years ago now, my now nearly 16 year old daughter Aislinn wrote a report for school. The assignment was to base the report on a villian and re-write the story from their perpective. She chose Maleficent. She has always loved her, as villians go, but it brought up an interesting point: who decides who are the villians and who are the heros? He who tells the story, of course. So when Disney announced they were making a movie about her favourite “evil” character, she went giddy with anticipation.
Friday night my two older girls and I went off to the theatre for the movie. It was fairly packed, and there was a nice mix of ages in the crowd.
Disney did a pretty good job, I have to say. They started out the story with Maleficent’s back story and childhood. One of my favourite parts of the beginning of the movie was the homage to Fantasia with the faeries in the Moor. The girl they cast to play young Maleficent was lovely and sweet. A fair amount of time was spent building up the back story. The two neighboring kingdoms, the Moor, where humans never went and a King hell-bent on conquering it and taking all the spoils. I loved the Moor. Disney painted a faery kingdom that is the stuff of dreams. All the characters were unique, intresting, endearing.
When young Stefan ventures into the Moor and meets Maleficent, those of us familliar with the story knew right away that he would eventually become King. The two, as young people, of course have a friendship that one days becomes more than just friendship. 16 year old Stefan gives 16 year old Maleficent (a nice foreshadowing of why she chose the age 16 in the curse) a kiss and tells her it is ‘true love’s kiss’.
Of course, half an hour into the movie we already know this ‘love’ is doomed. Sweet Maleficent who protects the Moor with her expansive wings and compassion is jilted by the power hungry Stefan and then enraged when he steals her wings to secure himself the throne.
Cue one of my favourite parts of the movie. The christening of baby Aurora.
Disney kept this scene nearly verbatim from the animated movie. Although the three faeries had different names, which I didn’t like, but I’ll get into that in a minute.
I loved that the Queen only spoke one line in the whole movie, the same as in Sleeping Beauty. I loved that Angelina Jolie, who I am lukewarm on at best, was so perfect for this part that I forgot it was her playing it. Exceptionally well done.
Now, I had one or two little issues. The faeries bringing up Aurora. They were awful. Not the actual actresses, but the parts that were written for them. Bumbling and argumentative and seemingly not at all focused on making sure this child lives, let alone is loved by them. But…with Maleficent and her crow/man Diaval (an amazing character) always watching the little “beastie”, she not only lives, but begins to be aware that someone loves her and is watching over her. Someone she comes to know as her faerie godmother.
I also had issue with Stefan. Sharlto Copley who played Stefan appeared to have trouble holding on to his accent and at times, to the emotion he was meant to be portraying at the time. I did not enjoy him.
Back to the movie. Though Maleficent was an angry, jilted, maimed faery when she issued the curse, (with true love’s kiss being the ultimate nail in the curse’s coffin – as she says – true love does not exist), we get to watch her fall in love with her nemisis as a mother figure. It is so subtly done that we as an audience fall for it completely and are drawn in so much so that when the “prince” shows up, I was actually mad that he was there.
True love’s kiss however, did not come from him.
It was a mother’s kiss that broke the curse. (cue Frozen similarities)
Without giving up too much more, I will say that I loved the movie. The cinematography was stunning, Aurora was perfectly cast (Elle Fanning), Diaval was hilarious and wonderful, Angelina was born to play the role. The magical creatures were completely believable and the effects were amazing.
I would definitely reccomend this movie.
Now the countdown starts in earnest for TFIOS. I will, I am sure, have lots to say on that one as well.
I will close with saying how nice it is to see all the movies coming out soon that are based on books. GOOD books. There are several great ones coming soon that I am really looking forward to. It’s going to be a good summer.