So it seems that in the past few months I have become somewhat of a Disney movie blogger. Whether it be Marvel, Pixar, or the Disney Studios I am drawn to their movies the moment they hit theatres. Maybe it's the magic. Maybe it's the kind of fun that doesn't make you want to scrub your mind afterwards or hide under your bed at night. Either way this love for Disney/Marvel/Pixar has led to a string of reviews about their latest films which brings me to their most recent epic fantasy, Maleficent.
I am a 90s kid and I pretty much grew up on VHS movies involving the classic animated tales of princes and princesses, adventure and romance, wishes and magic. For as long as I can remember the classic Disney movie Sleeping Beauty has been one of my favourites. A large contributor to this is the spiteful fairy with the evil cackle, Maleficent, who for the longest time never had a back story. Thankfully someone had the time to discover her backstory and, enlisting the incredible talents of Angelina Jolie, were able to bring to life one of Disney's greatest villains.
Maleficent retells the beloved fairy tale of a sleeping curse with a delightful twist, revealing the effects of the curse through the eyes of its caster. Before the iconic christening scene takes place we meet a much younger Maleficent and follow her through a life that shaped the dark fairy we all know and (hate to) love today. So many layers suddenly appear where once the villainous character was somewhat one dimensional. It is a sad story and one that gradually led me to feel sorry for her almost without my realizing it. By the time we had reached halfway into the film, I was more compassionate towards Maleficent than I ever was for the heroes in the original.
It is my belief that a lot of this has to do with the wonderful portrayal by Angelina Jolie. She was not merely playing the character, but she became the character. She embodies everything we see in the animated villain: evil, hatred, revenge...But at the same time she brings a sort of elegance, sorrow, and beauty that is often overlooked. Perhaps it was the fact that the theatre is kept quite cold, but I got chills from the moment she appeared on screen. It is a fantastic return to media for Angelina Jolie.
While Maleficent is the main character (hence the name of the movie) she is not my absolute favourite. This spot is stolen not by Aurora, King Stefan, or Prince Philip, but by the surprisingly entertaining and caring crow, Diaval (Sam Riley). You may remember him as the loyal pet of Maleficent and this is still true, but as with Maleficent, Diaval's character becomes more than one dimensional. I cared for the bird which is strange to say if I hadn't gotten to know him in human form. Once again the casting choice is amazing, Sam Riley giving a believable performance as a man who prefers and is even proud of his bird form.
The dark duo is probably the most interesting set of characters within the story, but I have to give credit to the rest of the cast who were still memorable in their own way. Aurora is perfect and happy, played by an energetic Elle Fanning who shows absolute wonder at the magical world around her. King Stefan has a tragic air about him, Sharlto Copley bringing to life a haunting storyline that becomes darker and darker as the film goes on and continues to stick with me even now. Although Brenton Thwaites has a short run as Phillip it was enough to make me believe he could be Aurora's Prince.
One of the things that really blew me away about this film is the world of magic in which we are introduced. It is unlike any I have ever seen before, original in so many ways and filled with the most fantastical creatures ever created. The kingdom is beautiful with stunning sunsets outlining the palace, passing over the magical moors, and sparkling in the woods where Aurora lives. Mystical landscapes are in abundance, painted in rich colours that perfectly match the varying moods of a scene. These fantastic visuals are beautiful and magical and at the same time so realistic that I found myself briefly wishing that it actually existed.
Disney's Maleficent has been a movie that I have been anticipating since it was first announced and after waiting so long to finally see it I must say that I definitely wasn't disappointed. This is the type of movie that I would love to watch over and over, always picking up on a new detail and finding something else to love. While it may have taken a different view on the classic tale and introduced a drastically changed ending that I never saw coming, it will stand beside Sleeping Beauty as one of my favourites for years. I'll just pretend that this story and the Disney original happened in alternative universes. Until next time...
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, MOVIE GOERS
Favourite Quote: "As the seasons changed and the flowers grew, so did she." -Narrator (Janet McTeer)