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“Maleficent” Deliciously Wicked, Delightfully Fun!

maleficent (muhlefuhsuh nt)

adjective

doing evil or harm; harmfully malicious; causing or capable of producing evil or mischief; harmful or baleful.

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We all grew up with Disney’s classic animated film “Sleeping Beauty” and since then we have shared it with our kids, nieces and nephews and grandchildren. It is a beautiful story of love and good vs. evil. Now Disney is back with a new vision of this classic tale. You only thought you knew the story. You are about to see the world of  “Sleeping Beauty” through the eyes of Maleficent and it tells a different story, one in which you will realize you don’t know Maleficent at all.

Stefan (the future king) and Maleficent as childhood sweethearts.

Stefan (the future king) and Maleficent as budding childhood sweethearts.

Once Upon a Time there were two kingdoms that were the worst of neighbors. In one land lived the people who were ruled by a greedy king and the people were often envious of one another. In the other kingdom in the moors lived all types of mystical creatures like fairies and elves. This land was lived in with love and trust with one another. It is here that we are introduced to a young fairy named Maleficent and a whole new telling of the classic fable.

Early in the film Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy) meets a boy (Michael Higgins) who has crossed the border between the lands. His name is Stefan (he will  grow up to be Princess Aurora’s father). The two instantly like one another and through conversation it turns out both children are orphans. The two grow very close over the years and on Maleficent’s 16th birthday it becomes something more. Stefan give Maleficent a gift. He calls it true love’s kiss. Sadly the romance will be short lived. Stefan’s greed and want of material things will drive the two further apart. They will see less and less of one another. Maleficent grows into beautiful womanhood played elegantly by Angelina Jolie.  Maleficent becomes the guardian of her land.

Her life of harmony is interrupted when the ruthless King Henry decides to invade the moors because he has gotten word of a growing power. He dares to venture into the moors to destroy the mystical creatures that live there. He comes face to face with Maleficent and demands that his armies bring him her head. It is a battle that Maleficent and the residents of the moors win. King Henry will begin to obsess and his desire to destroy her will grow. On his deathbed he makes an offer that anyone who can kill the winged creature (Maleficent) will ascend to the throne after he passes. Stefan is in that room. He comes up with a plan and after years he is about to be reunited with his first love.

Stefan warns Maleficent of the King’s plan to have her killed and tells her she must trust him. They speak of many things as the years apart melt away and she forgives him for walking out of her life. They fall asleep cradled in one another’s embrace. She awakens to find that Stefan’s concern was all a lie. Sometime in the night he has cut her wings off  (he could not bring himself to take her life) and left with them. He has taken them to King Henry as proof that he killed winged creature. Maleficent has been ultimately betrayed. Meanwhile Stefan will become King. Maleficent’s heart grows cold and she creates a barrier between the two lands. And it is here that the story changes from one of jealousy to one of rape (in a non-sexual sense) and revenge.

Maleficent comes to deliver her gift to Princess Aurora at her christening.

Maleficent comes to deliver her gift to Princess Aurora at her christening.

Like it was in the original film, the time for Princess Aurora’s christening arrives and Maleficent is not invited to the celebration. She comes to deliver her gift which of course is wrapped in a curse and it takes on a whole new meaning with Stefan giving Maleficent her true love’s kiss. She gives Aurora her gift (she will grow in happiness and beauty) and her curse (that on the eve of her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and will fall asleep for eternity). Stefan pleads with Maleficent not to do this to his innocent daughter so she adjusts the curse (with more than a little irony) so she can be woken up, but only, by true love’s kiss. Maleficent having grown cold over the years no longer believes in love. From this point on as the movie unfolds you will realize you don’t know the story at all.

“Maleficent” has some new elements that were non-existent in the story you know.

Maleficent has a delightful and funny sidekick, a raven named Diaval. She will periodically turn him human and they engage in very amusing banter. She will also use her magic to turn him into other creatures. Usually something vicious with sharp teeth as a defense.

Aurora wanders into the woods an accidentally comes upon Maleficent.

Aurora wanders into the woods an accidentally comes upon Maleficent.

Maleficent watches over the young Princess to make sure she grows up in safety assuring her 16th birthday so her curse can be carried out. ( She finds the 3 fairies watching over her incompetent). Maleficent is delightfully snide saying things like “I hate you” or “I don’t like children” at the child.

When Aurora is into her teens she again encounters Maleficent. Aurora tells Maleficent that she knows she has been watching over her so she must be her Fairy Godmother. Maleficent is taken aback by this. The two begin to spend more time together and actually form a relationship. Maleficent is taken by the child’s innocence and joy and wonder at the world and slowly but surely begins to enjoy her company and care for her.

Maleficent realizes that if she eliminates the spell there is the possibility that both kingdoms could find peace with one another. When she cursed the child she said that the curse could not be broken. Maleficent attempts to revoke the curse but cannot because when she bestowed it upon the child she said no power on earth can change it.

We learn that faeries cannot touch iron. It will burn their skin and this will work into the plot.

We watch Prince Stefan be consumed by his guilt and watch him swallowed up in obsession over Maleficent.

Maleficent takes Prince Phillip to the castle herself so he can kiss Aurora and break the spell.

The end battle with Maleficent although similar to the original is actually quite different.

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The performances in the movie are fantastic all the way around. Elle Fanning is a joy as Aurora. Sharito Copley as Stefan is  brooding as he makes his descent to a very dark place. Lesley Manville (Flittle), Imelda Staunton (Knotgrass) and Juno Temple (Thistletwit) are a pure and funny delight as the 3 fairies to watch over Aurora. They take dysfunctional to a whole new level. And Angelina Jolie as Maleficent? She is delightfully dark, deliciously bitchy, incredibly witty and a pure joy to watch. She is perfectly cast and I cannot imagine any other actress in the lead role.

The costumes are excellent, especially the wardrobe worn by Maleficent. I know a young female impersonator who is duplicating some of them for stage and she will look ravishing in them.

The special effects are spectacular and if you see the movie in it’s 3-d format you are in for a treat. The 3-D does enhance the pleasure of the viewing experience with this movie.

The editing keeps the movie going without a lag in the story and the action sequences are exciting to watch. The movie is not as dark or as horror themed as the previews would leas you to believe. The movie has dark moment but is not a dark film by any means.

My favorite detail about this film is Maleficent herself. In the animated film we see her as cold and heartless. In this version we are given something quite different. We see Maleficent as a child full of energy, joy and a sense of wonder, enjoying life as we all should. When she becomes an adult we see her as a beautiful woman with feelings, wants and desires. When her wings are stolen this kind and pure woman senses the emotional pain of betrayal and it hurts her very deeply. It makes her an angry and cold person, destroying her sense that love is real. When she comes to bestow her curse on Stefan’s child it is out of bitterness, not evil, although as time passes Maleficent will realize that her curse is evil being committed against a child. At first she looks at Aurora as a tool to hurt Stefan and has no problem voicing the fact that she feels hate towards her. This will change as the two spend time together and Maleficent sees that youthful energy and joy that she once possessed. As Maleficent begins to care for Aurora she realizes the curse was a mistake. Feeling guilt (which never happened in the animated film) she tries to take the spell back and is highly upset when she can’t. Trying to save the girl she tells her that she can live on the moors (Maleficent knows there are no spindles to be found) and the curse will pass leaving Aurora unharmed. The fairies watching over Aurora tell her who Maleficent truly is.  Maleficent now knows what it feels like to betray someone. Maleficent gets back in touch with who she really is and will stop at nothing to break the curse she created where everyone can live happily ever after.

“Maleficent” is a fantasy action film and is rated “PG” It contains scenes with action/violence and some images could be considered frightening. The film may be too intense for younger viewers so use your judgement when taking your kids. “Maleficent” although not a perfect film is fun and I have to say that overall I was not bored  and found it pleasant way to spend an afternoon at the movies. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was very happy with what I saw. The film is currently playing in both 2-D and 3-D versions. I prefer the 3-D version of the film.

I give “Maleficent” a 7 out 0f 10 …and I know a female impersonator putting a curse on my for not giving it a 10 out of 10 right now. Enjoy!

"Maleficent" a fun treat for the family.

“Maleficent” a fun treat for the family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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