Similarities between "Sleeping Beauty" and "Maleficent"
Director: Robert Stromberg
Writers: Linda Woolverton, Charles Perrault, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, Milt Banta
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, Kenneth Cranham, Sarah Flind, Hannah New, Isobelle Molloy, Michael Higgins, Ella Purnell, Jackson Bews
Synopsis: A vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images
Maleficent in "House of Mouse"
4.3 / 10
- Angelina Jolie's amazing performance as the iconic character, while putting her own unique take on it.
- Song orchestration is nicely done, and fits the tone of the film perfectly
- Costume Designs are excellent, and capture the iconic look of the characters
- Special effects are good
- Great premise
- Trolls and other mythological creatures look fake, but it's not too bad to where it ruins the movie.
- Contains various plot holes that won't make any sense, unless you've seen the original animated film, "Sleeping Beauty."
- Prince Phillip is a useless throwaway character that's shoehorned into the story for no other purpose than for the fact that he was in the original "Sleeping Beauty"; hence he has to be there.
- All the supporting characters are reduced to various cliches and stereotypes
- It never explains why the three pixies side with King Steffan.
- Romance between Aurora and Phillip feels even more forced than their animated counterparts.
- King Steffan is the generic stereotypical bad guy
- Aurora is written as a "Mary Sue" type character with little to no real personality.
- Elle Fanning's performance is restricted by the way her character was written.
- The three Pixies are reduced to moronic idiots.
"Maleficent" is a film that has the soul of a great story, but it's weighed down by the fact it's forced to parallel it's original animated counterpart. To be honest, "Maleficent" was probably one of my most anticipated films of this year, as the premise itself offered so much untapped potential. Retelling a classic story from the antagonist's point of view is an interesting idea, as there's always two sides to every story. However, in this particular case, it doesn't seem to work.
Not because it's a bad idea or anything, but it falls short on execution. The story starts off being narrated by an elderly lady, who we never find out the identity of until the very end of the feature. The narrator recalls the tale of the infamous Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) dating back to her younger years, as a child. Back then, she's depicted as a human sized fairy that protects the enchanted woods that's filled with all sorts of mythological creatures. We never seen any other human sized fairies roaming this enchanted forest, as the film heavily implies that she's the last of her kind.
Eventually, she meets a small human boy named Steffan, who lives on a farm. The two form an unlikely bond, as she falls in love with him over time. The young farm boy mentions briefly how he would like to live in the castle someday, but he makes no secret that he harbors feelings for Maleficent. The unlikely friendship they carry eventually turns into love, as they share true love's first kiss on her sixteenth birthday.
Sadly, she never sees Steffan again after that fateful day. However, the evil king declares war on the mythological creatures of the forest, but their efforts end in vain by the hands of Maleficent and her army. The king is slowly dying, and he has no heir to take over for him once he's gone. However, he offers a chance for one his men to become king by killing Maleficent. Enter a grown up version of the boy Maleficent used to love. Although she still missed him terribly, she couldn't have predicted the greed that would take over Steffan's heart over the years. His lust for power knew no bounds, as Steffan (Sharlto Copley) was determined to become king no matter what, even at the expense of Maleficent's happiness. Needless to say, things didn't end well that day.
Not only did Steffan break the heart of the girl he once loved, but he also takes away her wings as proof that he killed her; even though he couldn't actually go through with it. Naturally, Maleficent became bitter towards King Steffan, and vowed revenge; even going as far as to cast a curse on his newborn daughter, Aurora.
If you've seen the original "Sleeping Beauty", then you pretty much know what happens from here. Aurora gets cursed. Three little pixies hide her in the woods for the next sixteen years, and blah blah.
In an ironic twist to the story though, Maleficent is the one that casts a spell that could undo her own curse by saying that only true love's kiss can break the spell, as she eloquently puts it during her curse connotation; instead of it being one of the pixies like it was portrayed in "Sleeping Beauty." In this version, she does that because she believes that true love doesn't exist, after what King Steffan did to her; hence she found it to be a rather cruel joke that the only thing that would undo the spell would be something she believed didn't exist.
Without giving away too much, the story seems fairly faithful to the original animated version, with a few changes here and there. Some of them are small like the spell connotation that I mentioned earlier, while others are a bit bigger like Maleficent's relationship with Aurora's father.
It's an interesting take on a classic fairy tale, as it provides a lot of much needed backstory for the character. Plus, Angelina Jolie's performance is spectacular, as she not only manages to capture the iconic wickedness of Maleficent, but she's also able to bring a sense of vulnerability as well; a side of the character that most mainstream audiences never saw in the original animated version.
And even though Maleficent can be a bit evil at times, you can never bring yourself to hate her because she's not really a villain at all. She's a poor girl that got her heart broken by a man that she once loved, and she finds herself in an adversarial position. However, during her quest for revenge, she soon learns that her actions could end up hurting someone else who's dear to heart. Someone who loves her far more than Steffan ever did. I can't divulge anymore without giving away the rest of the film, but it's definitely heartbreaking to think about what Maleficent went through.
As for the special effects, I have to admit they were rather impressive. Although some of the mythological creatures like the trolls and etc looked obviously fake, but it wasn't enough to ruin the movie though.
The costume designs were fairly impressive; especially the one for Maleficent. The costume designers really outdid themselves with this one, as they managed to capture the iconic look of the character perfectly. Plus, the orchestration during this movie was nicely done, and fits the tone of the film perfectly.
Sadly, this is where all the positives end. Although the movie had a great premise to work with, the sad reality is this film fell short on execution. For starters, all the supporting characters were all one dimensional, and lacked any kind of depth.
The older version of Steffan, played by Sharlto Copley, was essentially nothing more than a power hungry cowardly a**hole. And to make matters worse, we're never given any real reason why he turned into an a**hole, after that kiss him and Maleficent shared once as teenagers. Nope, they just have him disappear mysteriously after that, and you have a quick exposition by the narrator saying, "What Maleficent didn't know is man's capability to succumb to greed." Fast forward years later, he's suddenly an a**hole now. Plain and simple. Does he feel the slightest bit guilty about hurting a girl he once loved? Pfft! Don't be silly. Disney would rather have him become the stereotypical cliched power hungry villain, with hardly any redeeming qualities.
You also have a goofy sidekick character that helps "Maleficent", who's only there to act as her conscience and comedic relief.
And, lets not forget about Elle Fanning. Oh boy, where do I begin with her? For those of you who've been following me for quite sometime, you should know that I loved her performance in "Super 8." Back then, I thought she showed a lot of great promise as a young actress, and she was one of the reasons why I wanted to see this film. However, she comes off as such a "Mary Sue" in this movie that it's hard to connect with her character.
Plus, her forced romance with Prince Phillip literally comes out of nowhere, and serves no real purpose to the plot; other than he was in the original "Sleeping Beauty", so he has to be in the story somewhere. In fact, one of the major flaws about this movie is that you have to watch the original "Sleeping Beauty" to know what's going on because if you don't, then there's going to be a few things that don't make any sense. For example, When Prince Phillip meets Aurora for the first time in "Sleeping Beauty", it's clearly explained that he was on his way to King Steffan's castle to marry the Princess Aurora. Hence, he just happened to be wandering through the woods at the time Aurora was there. Granted, it's a bit too convenient if you ask me, but it's explained why they met up.
Yet in "Maleficent", it's never mentioned at all why he was passing through the forest, nor does the film ever take the time to explain why he's on his way to Steffan's castle. Nope, you have to watch the original "Sleeping Beauty" to know that answer.
Plus, his forced cameo appearance, at the end, literally makes no freaking sense, as he's practically shoehorned into the story as nothing more than a throwaway character. Personally, this movie probably would've been better served if Phillip wasn't even in it.
Not to mention the romance between him and Aurora feels even more forced than the damn animated movie that came out in 1959. Quite an amazing feat considering that movie relied on the whole love at first sight nonsense.
As far as the pixies go, they're reduced to the level of incompetent imbeciles that it makes you wonder why the hell King Steffan would trust those three morons to raise the baby, in the first place. Not to mention, it's never fully explained why they side with King Steffan, after he betrays Maleficent. At the beginning of the movie, it's shown that they knew Maleficent when she was a little girl, yet they side with King Steffan after he betrays her? What gives? It doesn't make any sense, and it just becomes an annoying plot hole for the story.
In the end, "Maleficent' is just another movie that had a lot going for it, but it fails to live up to it's potential.. Granted, the 3-D cinematography is nicely done, but the story hardly makes it worth checking out in theaters. If you ask me, I'd say stick with the original "Sleeping Beauty." Granted, the animated original might be a flawed film, but it's still a helluva a lot better than this poorly put together live action version. However, if you do choose to see it anyway, then I would recommend checking it out on netflix or something because it's not worth the price of admission.
Maleficent in "Kingdom Hearts" (Warning: Contains Spoilers for "Kingdom Hearts" and "Birth by Sleep")
Maleficent's best lines in "Sleeping Beauty"
© 2014 Steven Escareno
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