We all know the story of Disney's classic film Sleeping Beauty. We know the self-proclaimed Mistress of all evil, Maleficent, puts a curse on young Princess Aurora that will send her and the kingdom into a deep sleep when she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel at the age of 16. We saw the plan play out perfectly, then we saw it thwarted when Prince Phillip rides in on his white horse and saves the day with true loves kiss. What we didn't know is why Maleficent was so evil and why she chose to single out this helpless child to put a curse upon. Disney's new film Maleficent (release May 30 2014) explains those questions for us.
Straying from the focus of the princess, as is usual for Disney; the main focus of the film is on the life of Maleficent. We get an insight into her childhood and where she comes from. We also get to see all the things that made her the heartless witch we know her to be in the animated film. Without giving away spoilers I will leave it as we learn a lot about her. Now being a fan of Sleeping Beauty*, I was excited for Maleficent as I thought it would be a take on the story of Sleeping Beauty with a bit more of Maleficent's view, similar to Snow White and the Huntsman, but sadly this is not the case. Instead we are left with a weak plotline and wasted opportunities in visuals and costuming.
Let's talk plot for a moment, especially when you have someone as amazing as Angelina Jolie to work with. I honestly wish the actual film were as good as Angelina's portrayal. Jolie hit the nail on the head with capturing Maleficent's sense of superiority to those around her, especially in the scene where she places a curse on the young Princess. Taking lines directly from the animated film, Jolie's deliverance was phenomenal. Aside from Angelina Jolie, however, everything else sort of blended together. Nothing stood out as being amazing to me, which is a shame because I really like Elle Fanning in particular but the story the actors had to work with was just not that good to be honest.
Apart from the plot issues**, there were also so many missed opportunities with costuming and visuals which was very disappointing, especially for a company as large as Disney. Costuming for Angelina Jolie was great–sometimes. The horns and various headpieces were amazing! They were completely stunning on her and the craftsmanship looked perfect. The same can be said about Jolie's overall face makeup and prosthetics. Unfortunately, the ward robing just fell short in my opinion. (Sorry little spoiler ahead) At one point they had her in what looked like a rendition of the 1960's cat woman costume which didn't make sense. I mean, looking back to Snow White and the Huntsman, that was some costuming! Charlize looked flawless in all of her intricate outfits. All I'm saying is that if Maleficent is going to be the focus of the film she should be dressed to perfection.
The film was not the best it could have been, but it also wasn't so terrible that I wanted to demand my money back, I just feel like there was potential for something greater. When you have a great cast and the funding that Disney can provide, it just seems like you should really take advantage of it. Angelina was amazing as always and I do believe that it helps the film to have her as the lead! So, I recommend you see the film if your heart was truly set on it because hey, I could be completely wrong in your opinion, but if you are on the fence about it, I advise you don't spend too much on the movie because you might regret it after.
*Footnote: I'm seriously a huge fan of the original Sleeping Beauty and to be honest I kind of like the idea of Maleficent being a total bitch for no reason. Why do we need a backstory? Can't she just be eternally pissed because she wants to? I say yes, yes she can.
**Footnote 2: I know I discussed a lot of plot issues, and I do believe they are there with the story being slow in some parts and rushe in others. There have been a lot of remarks that this is Disney’s first feminist film, but I would like us all to remember Brave and the princess that shot for her own hand you guys.