Cert: PG Runtime: 97 mins Director: Robert Stromberg Cast: Angelian Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Brenton Thwaites
Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will fall into a sleep-like death!
Diseny have been re-inventing classic tales as of late from Alice in Wonderland, Oz now Sleeping Beauty. Personally I am not bothered about these re-inventions, the only thing that grasped me was the star quality of Angelina Jolie. So what is Maleficent all about? A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal – an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces a battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora (Elle Fanning). As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.
Telling a backstory of a villain doesn’t always have to be tricky, one I could suggest is a Shakespeare inspired tragedy type of storytelling, because apparently that is what perfectly fits to their themes, but the film rather focuses on the aesthetics. The story itself is about sympathizing the villain, like pointing them as the real victim of the world’s darkness because of the people’s lack of tolerance in their strangeness. This idea is obvious for sure, but it all falls short by the script’s lack of real depth. It doesn’t really have any interest at developing much of its characters, especially when it comes to relationships. So really, it could have focused a lot more on the characters and only let the narrator talk in the intro and the epilogue. The film surely has enough time to linger on the characters. Instead, it lingers more on how beautiful everything in this world looks. We shouldn’t blame at the director’s fascination with his own skill, in fact it is the only thing that brings it to life. The effects are indeed eye candy, the production and costumes are totally rich, and the cinematography could be perfectly use for something iconic. But again, this is not what the movie generally asks for. The visuals could have worked better in a superhero movie or any fantasy that is mainly about action, but a story like this should always be at the heart of the drama and not of the action or landscapes.
The performance at least beats the contrivance. Angelina Jolie, as expected, shines as Maleficent. Though there’s only one scene that will totally amaze the audience which also had already been seen in Sleeping Beauty. But overall she brings the soul of the character thus makes this Maleficent really effective. The other cast doesn’t do much. Elle Fanning is undeniably charming as Princess Aurora. Too bad, manifesting her innocence is the only thing the script can make her do. Manville, Stauton, and Temple are mostly use for comic relief, and it becomes so broad, the fairies end up becoming like a female version of The Three Stooges.Maleficent has plenty of great technical achievements and solid acting, but the problem really is its lack of darkness. Aesthetically, it is dark, but thematically and emotionally, this is where it becomes underwhelming. It makes the 1959 Sleeping Beauty movie looks darker and will scare children more than this supposedly grim prequel. So the main message is basically Maleficent’s evilness is actually just an illusion that is made up by the ones who have a problem of accepting people who are different. Well, that is just one of them. All of its messaging could have worked better if the characters and their interactions to each other are also well developed. Still, these things doesn’t even justify on what makes this villain so compelling.