Review: Maleficent (2D)

Is there any better example of missing the point than this?
Maleficent: “I am the Queen of All Evil” – Sleeping Beauty 1959. Now, Maleficent is a Paragon of True Love.

When the realm of fairies and the world of humans fall into war, Maleficent, one of the most powerful of fairies, strives to protect her lands. Her childhood love for Prince Stephen is betrayed when he rises to power, and in a fit of rage she curses his newborn child Aurora to die before her sixteenth birthday. However as Aurora grows up in seclusion Maleficent questions her own actions… while King Stephen becomes wrathful.

This film is blasphemous to the titular character. My childhood felt butchered by the film’s end.

First, you must appreciate how hard it is for me to say that… I went into this film with only quiet skepticism and I had done away with my doubts. But Sleeping Beauty is my favourite Disney film. Why? Not for the archetypal characters or accident prone fairies, no, for Maleficent herself. Sure, she has no motive and is simply an antagonist. But she is one of the greats in film villainy: terrible, wrathful and cruel, giving some of animation’s most haunting moments in the process.

2014’s Maleficent begins with a rosy-cheeked, innocent little fairy girl Maleficent.

Okay, okay, I can restrain myself… This is partly expected from today’s Disney and I stomached Boba Fett being a kid didn’t I? (not really) Everything will go wrong and the true Maleficent will bloom before my eyes!

This film’s brazenly confident narration tells me: “So you think you know the tale?” Well yes, in fact I do; it is my favourite tale. Well, turns out I don’t know it at all when they make stuff up! Maleficent does not follow 1959 Sleeping Beauty’s foundation at all.
I don’t know the fairytale you say, Disney? Let’s see… How about I research the Sleeping Beauty tale just now… maybe Maleficent is telling the true tale, maybe I’ve gravely misjudged the source material. Nope. Turns out nothing in this film is from the source material! The 1959 animation has far, far more references to the original tale (and I am taking into account the multiple renditions of the fairytale) Come on, Disney! Don’t you dare rewrite your history and proclaim it is wrong. Don’t you dare assume to teach the true fairytale if you have no desire to even come close to it! Most of all, don’t you dare make a film about a villain if you have no intention of going through with it!

This film is about Maleficent (a fabrication of Disney, incidentally) but while we get a character who looks and sounds like her, she is acting out being a misunderstood, repressed fairy, fighting an evil King. How, I am desperate to know, can Disney take their most EVIL character and make her a noble, tragic soul that I should feel sympathy for?? There’s even a scene where she regrets and tries to revoke the curse she placed on Aurora! Why has Disney taken their own creation, after decades of cementing her place as a grand villain, and turned her into a heroine?

God, this film…
It could have been good, no it could have been glorious, if it had simply kept the character unchanged. It boggles my mind why they did it. Angelina Jolie is exceptional, I love her as an actress and she is the perfect fit for Maleficent. The special effects are good and there’s heaps of atmosphere, her ent-like tree soldiers are awesome as well. The three fairies weren’t bad either (apart from being given the wrong names!) they were always ditzy, and King Stephen’s fear and paranoia was great, it was an actual improvement on the 1959 animation; a father would be consumed with guilt and fear in those circumstances.

But damn did they screw.up.everything.else. By the halfway mark I was bored, and by the end I had ceased caring. What a tragic waste of Jolie’s perfect talents. I would not be surprised if Walt Disney himself is turning in his grave.

This is simply a creative decision, probably by committee, that I absolutely cannot understand.

Would anyone accept a new 101 Dalmations movie where Cruella De Vil wasn’t actually… erm, cruel and she was actually trying to make a dog shelter? Or if Shere Khan was just looking for a good scratching post the whole time after King Louie had stolen them all? Or if Scar was actually a good guy, he was framed by hyenas the entire time?

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