The Brat Reviews Maleficent (2014)

Director: Robert Stromberg
Written by: Linda Woolverton
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Sharlto Copley
Duration: 98 minutes

A coin has two sides. Well, so does the story of Sleeping Beauty.

We all know what happens to Princess Aurora on her 16th birthday in the original 1959 Disney animation Sleeping Beauty. She pricks her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and falls into a deep sleep. And as dictated by the curse cast upon her by Maleficent, the Mistress of All Evil, she can only be awaken by true love’s kiss.

Disney’s 1959 Maleficent was one-dimensional and really unreasonable. But now, Disney has revamped their infamous villainess and has given Maleficent an acceptable reason for her anger.

After all, how can a film be successful if we don’t connect with and empathize with the lead character? And so Disney’s Maleficent (2014) introduces us to title character before she becomes dark and twisty. This helps us connect emotionally with Sleeping Beauty’s villainess and gives us cause to root for her.

In the musical Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, we all switched sides and went to bat for a green witch who was misunderstood and victimized. Well, this film would be the untold story of Maleficent. A story that reveals how a young innocent fairy ends up becoming an evil sorceress who casts an irreparable curse on an innocent baby.

Since Disney’s Enchanted (2007), viewers have enjoyed a breath of fresh air with an interesting new perspective of true love. In the past, Disney princesses and princes meet and fall in love in a blink of an eye. Thus perpetuating the concept of love at first sight in many young girls’ minds. Now, young children who grow up watching Disney films will get a more practical and realistic view of true love. A trend last seen in Disney’s Frozen (2013). And a trend I am happy to see continue in Maleficent (2014).

Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent is hauntingly beautiful and terrifying at the same time. She is the reason you should watch the film. It’s a joy to see her mold Maleficent into an iconic character that will be remembered as a misguided individual with a heart, instead of being just another stereotypical Disney villainess.

Angelina Jolie is a scene-stealer and her performance as Maleficent overshadows those of her co-stars. However, the film also benefits from a more than decent cast with notable performances from Elle Fanning (Princess Aurora) and Sam Riley (Diaval). And for first time director Robert Stromberg, he does a wonderful job of bringing to life the untold story of Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty.

Your knowledge of the once familiar characters in the tale of Sleeping Beauty will be challenged and turned on it’s head. Maleficent (2014) serves up a dash of realism infused with the expected happily ever after and is without a doubt a visually stunning film that is definitely worth watching.

[4/5 stars]

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