There’s been a thing about live action fairy tales in recent years. Not a big thing, not particularly anyway, but a small thing. It’s a presence, really, just something that you’ll occasionally notice and go ‘huh, fancy that.’ There’s a current release that fits in this ‘thing’ of live action fairy tales, and it comes from the movie master of them; Disney. Now, this one is a re-telling of a classic story, using the character names they had used for their animated version. Well, mostly. I’m talking of the recently released Maleficent, which I had the pleasure of seeing with some family members, after which followed a nice discussion. Something that’s always good fodder for a review.
Maleficent starts by telling us the back story of the self-proclaimed Mistress of All Evil, Maleficent, and how she didn’t really start off as evil. No one does, not really. There was just one … big event before the events of Sleeping Beauty that lead to her spiteful curse on the baby Princess, and believe me when I say it is a really big event, and that yeah, Maleficent had every right and reason to be as angry as she was.
No, seriously, this is a really big event that carries a very obvious real world correlation and has been confirmed to be exactly what we think it is. Anyway, the rest of the movie is focused on how Maleficent changes following creating the curse, and seeing Aurora grow up to become a rather lovely young lady.
The big name in the movie is Angelina Jolie, and she really is fantastically cast. I genuinely think that without her, they would not have been able to make this movie, because I don’t think there’s any other actress currently who could do as must justice to the many layers of Maleficent as she can with so little dialogue. She’s a delight to watch on the screen, and really makes the character her own, while paying respect to the original animated version – the scene of the party for the baby Aurora is really where you can see Jolie’s glee in being able to play this character.
Another personal highlight was Elle Fanning’s Aurora. While we don’t see much of her, the little that we are privy to shows us a very happy young lady, who is a little adorable, and has likely had a far better life growing up away from the trappings of court. Her wide-eyed wonder at the world may fit better for a girl young than Aurora’s 16 years, but when you get to see what it is she feels such wonder at… Well, trust me, anyone would feel it.
The overall plot is fairly well executed, though I am not going to lie and say it’s perfect. Having looked at the novelisation of the movie, I can see the spots here and there where things were cut for times that probably should have been kept in. Some characterisation can come off as odd if you aren’t paying close attention, and there are some scenes that could have probably done better being in a different order.
That being said, the movie is still really enjoyable; and easily the best of the live-action movies Disney has produced as of late. Making me quite hopeful for 2015’s Cinderella, actually. Into the Woods I’m still a little cautious for, but will make my mind up on seeing it.
My biggest wish for Maleficent really, despite an incredibly healthy box office opening weekend, was that it could have been released at the height of the summer movie season. While the money it’s pulling in at the moment is nothing to be sniffed at, I feel that this – being Disney’s only summer offering – probably needed to work better with holidays worldwide.
All that being said, this is a movie that I could recommend to anyone. I would obviously give a caution on taking very small ones to see it, but am aware it would differ from small one to small one. But, yeah, really, this is one that must be seen as soon as possible.
You’ll enjoy it. Honest.
Z McAspurren (Lana Del Ray’s Once Upon a Dream isn’t used till the credits, though)