When I went to see Maleficent I was ultimately a little bit wary; I had that knowing feeling that I was either going to absolutely love this movie or I was going to absolutely loathe it. When the initial preview for the movie was first released I had very mixed feelings about what this movie was going to entail. I’m not much of an Angelina Jolie fan, and I was skeptical about the idea of essentially re-imagining one of Disney’s most timeless tales, but in the long run my love of Disney outweighed all else, and ultimately I knew I would have to see it no matter what.
Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning was beyond all of my expectations. The movie starts with the story of two vast lands: one with a greedy and powerful king, and the other a land of whimsical creatures who needed no ruler because they could live together harmoniously. We first meet Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy) and are instantly in awe at her beauty and kind spirit, and right from the start I found myself wondering how could such a sweet young girl with such a gentle heart turn into the Maleficent we know in Sleeping Beauty? Maleficent was not always the evil sorceress we saw in Sleeping Beauty, but a beautiful and tender hearted fairy with a very bright and cheerful personality. One day a human stumbles into the Moor where Maleficent lives and she confronts him as the protector of her land and asks him to return what he has stolen. The young boy, Stefan (Michael Higgins), returns the item and Maleficent escorts him out of the Moor and tells him it is not safe to return. Despite Maleficent’s warning the boy vows to come back solely to see her. As time goes on Stefan and Maleficent fall in love but circumstances keep them apart.
As Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) grows older the wicked and selfish King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) hears of her great power, and out of fear of the Moor trying to take his kingdom from them he decides to attack. Maleficent stands as the guardian with some of the other creatures and they strike down the King’s army. King Henry and his men try to retreat with there lives, but many are struck down. King Henry becomes ill and bedridden and promises his thrown to whoever can defeat Maleficent and bring evidence of her death to him to keep his own pride intact, as well as leave his legacy as King with honor. As Maleficent is betrayed and robbed of something very precious to her, she watches the new king with the help of her new assistant Diaval (Sam Riley) and she grows cold and spiteful, changing the entire feeling of the Moor. Maleficent decides to take it upon herself to be queen of the Moor, and with everyone terrified of her new darker self, no one objects, but learns to go along with living in a more oppressed and vengeful way of life. When Diaval reports to her that the new king is having a large celebration for his newborn daughter, Maleficent invites herself to the party and bestows her own gift on the child in the form of a curse. From this point on we see the entire story from a different point of view than originally told in Sleeping Beauty, and how sometimes stories can be misconstrued. As Aurora (Elle Fanning) grows older Maleficent watches her every move, and we see entirely different sides of Aurora, the King, Maleficent, and even the fairies that raise Aurora: Flittle (Lesley Manville), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), and Thistlewit (Juno Temple).
The story is told in such a way that your interest is held from start to finish of the movie. You see an entire story unfold that answers so many of the questions that were left from Sleeping Beauty. In this movie you finally understand who Maleficent truly was and why she bore so much hatred toward the king that she would curse his only child. I was captivated in the story that was so charming and even very comical. The story told in the movie was very endearing, showing how people can change and see the error of their ways. The comedic relief was provided by the fairies that raised Aurora and Diaval, who had some great one liners and silly moments; even Maleficent had a few humorous moments that lightened the tone of the film. As the minutes passed and the movie progressed I found myself craving more of the story and the resolution.
I got the pleasure of seeing this movie in 3D, which I’m typically not a huge fan of unless the 3D is really jumping off the screen at me, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well it was done and translated to the silver screen. The imagery in the very first scene immediately grabs your attention and holds it until the very end. The movie is filled with beautiful landscapes and scenes that are breathtaking and are even more stunning in 3D. Although the 3D is eye catching in several scenes, I’m not sure it was enough for me to justify the cost of the 3D movie ticket unless I was going to a matinee, however. The one true bonus of seeing the movie this way was that it had such fluid scenes and filming that at specific moments you almost felt immersed in the film, almost as if you were there. Initially, I know I was a bit nervous for Elle Fanning to play Aurora, as she is portrayed as one of the most beautiful and stunning characters in any fairy tale. Not to say that Elle Fanning isn’t a beautiful young woman, but Aurora was always the epitome of beauty. Fortunately, she absolutely pulled it off simply by embodying her spirit that it made all of her shine as the perfect Aurora.
Overall, this film was more than I ever thought it could possibly be. It was such an intriguing and interesting way to see a story everyone knows by turning the perspective to someone else’s view. My only criticism is that the gorgeous and haunting version of Once Upon a Dream covered by Lana Del Ray wasn’t used in the film anywhere but the credits. Before seeing the film I assumed because Maleficent wasn’t there for the dance between Aurora and Prince Phillip that it wouldn’t fit properly into the film, so I understood why they chose to keep it only in the credits. However, after seeing the movie I think it definitely should have been added in along with the dance between the young lovers. Besides that minor criticism the film is another strong one in Disney’s current streak of successes with its predecessors such as: Wreck it Ralph and Frozen. This is a must see movie to take the family to, or even just to see with friends. It’s a great movie for all age groups, and I know I’ll personally be going to see it again this weekend. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
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