First, I’m not thrilled with the live-action remake of animated classics trend, most notably Disney classics. I’m warning you now that Cinderella comes out next March with Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother. Second, I’m also not thrilled with changing the story for marketing sake. In the case of Maleficent, Disney went for a better reaction, especially amongst parents and children, by making her “good” instead of evil. She is still a devil and exercises said deviltry to deadly measures, but it’s mainly in re-action instead of action. Still, her softer side feels “wrong” because now we have to wonder about Maleficent’s “lifestyle,” so to speak. She has always been the most villainous of the Disney villains, and now that’s been hit with a monkey wrench. Regardless of those complaints and taken on its own merit, Maleficent was better than I expected, which is relative to how bad I had expected it to be.
Young Maleficent (Ella Purnell) is a fairy with amazing wings, a loving heart, and fabulous green eyes. She lives in The Moors, and enchanted land without any leader, just camaraderie, peace, and respect among creatures ranging from frog-like blobs to vine-like guardians, from things that crawl to things that both swim and fly. She is alerted to the border of their kingdom one day when a human is found stealing gems from the water. The human is a boy named Stefan (Michael Higgins) who returns the gem and falls in love with Maleficent. After enough years together that they are both adults, older Stefan (Sharlto Copley) leaves and does not return for a long time. He had hoped to become king but instead was a servant for the ruler of a neighboring kingdom. He never loses his desire to be king, however.
King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) has wondered for years what horrible things lay hidden in The Moors. He leads an army to invade what he perceives is his rival, when in reality the people of The Moors are just living peacefully without bothering anyone. It bothered me greatly that Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), while defending The Moors with great but justifiable wrath, never tried to explain that to King Henry. Instead, she and a collection of brilliant, deadly creatures slaughter those who do not retreat. Years later, as Henry approaches death and wishes to name a successor, he opines for having never defeated the winged and deadly Maleficent. This gives Stefan an idea.
He returns to Maleficent, warning her of King Henry’s intentions to vanquish her, but Stefan also – well – normally something that happens this early in a story is not a spoiler, but it was so vicious and unexpected that I’m going to consider it spoiler material. For his efforts, Stefan is named successor to King Henry, takes a queen, and eventually has a daughter named Aurora.
As in the Disney version, Maleficent is not invited to the celebration but appears anyway in order to place a curse on the baby, damning her to fall into an undead sleep before sunset on her 16th birthday to be awakened only by “true love’s kiss.” That is when the king and queen send the baby into the woods under the protection of three fairies to keep Aurora hidden until she has beaten the curse. We know how that turns out 16 years later because both this and the Disney classic are that same in that respect. Different, however, is what happens in Aurora’s years from birth up until her fateful finger prick on the spinning wheel. Instead of Maleficent spending 15 years, 364 days trying to find Aurora, she sees where the baby is right from the start. While having every opportunity to dispose of the darling child, she not only keeps tabs on her but develops a relationship that is rather friendly – until it is time for the curse to present itself at someone’s Sweet 16 moment.
Sorry to be annoying but because of exclusivity agreements, but to read the rest of the review you will have to please click here for The Cinematic Katzenjammer. Thanks!