I saw Sleeping Beauty pretty recently so that was a good set up for this film. The film did claim that the old story was basically fake through the posters and intro, which was a risky move since the older fans could have gotten nervous. Luckily, this new retelling turned out to be pretty good and Maleficent surpassed my expectations.
The film begins with Maleficent’s tragic backstory as she has her wings stolen and is tricked by a corrupt man from the enemy kingdom. It’s too late to regain her abilities, but she places a curse on the King’s daughter and then departs to protect her kingdom. Three fairies decide to take the princess to a shack in the woods so that they can hide from Maleficent, but this only buys them a few hours. Rather than harming the girl, Maleficent decides to just watch her from the shadows and help out from time to time. She mocks the fairies as well, but it’s hard not to at times. Aurora’s birthday is quickly approaching though so Maleficent will have to decide between good and evil while also facing upcoming dangers from the kingdom.
It’s a pretty happy film for the most part as Maleficent learns about the joys of being a nice person. It’s a film where you need to enjoy looking at the scenery as the film puts a lot of focus on it as we see that Maleficent’s kingdom isn’t all that bad either. The only dark part is probably the beginning, which is filled with dread as you know that the prince cannot be trusted.
Maleficent is a pretty good character and she’s certainly better than I expected. The posters didn’t really do the costume any favors and she’s certainly a formidable threat when she possesses her wings. She basically started out as a hero and lost her way, but she continues to try to do the right thing. She’s certainly better than some of the current protagonists like Katniss and Bilbo. I’d also go as far as to say that this could be her best portrayal, although she was still pretty great in the original film.
The director must not have liked the three fairies since they are downright awful in this film. They are just there to show us that the Kingdom is still very corrupt. They let the King push them around and they don’t really care that much for Aurora’s well being. Some of their lines are just meant to be funny, but they don’t really work and you would think that they were the step sisters from Cinderella. They definitely weren’t portrayed correctly.
Aurora was a decent character, but I feel like she jumped to conclusions way too quickly. After a lot of bonding time with one of the characters, she quickly forgets all of that and attacks her because of a quick word from the fairies. At that point in time, I’d definitely be more inclined to listen to the person who seems to be a lot cooler and more trust worthy. Aurora was also pretty quick to fall into the romance trap, which was unfortunate. I don’t believe in love at first sight and I probably never will. If you live in a forest and see a strange man for the first time…you should probably just head back home instead of telling him where you live. I didn’t think that she did a good job there and things almost got dicey.
The King is pretty awful as expected. He just wants to be rich and to destroy Maleficent no matter what the cost. He’s about as corrupt as they come and he really starts to go crazy by the end. He’s a character who’s created to be very unlikable and I can safely say that it works. I don’t think that you’ll be rooting for him during any parts of the film.
The Prince who always comes to save the day finds himself with a very different role in this film. I thought that Maleficent did a great job with that since it disproves the whole Love at First Sight myth. Let’s just say that it’s not true love and he’s written out of the script pretty quickly. Now other films can take note of how this isn’t a true romance and maybe things will start to look up…maybe.
The fight scenes were also surprisingly good. It’s no secret that I really don’t like the medieval period for films since the battles just contain a lot of gritty stabbing and guys yelling for a while, but that’s not the case here. The monsters actually look tough and we get some Man of Steel moments when Maleficent is flying. The fight scenes where she has her wings are definitely the best parts and the final fight is also pretty fun. That being said, it also takes us to the classic plot hax part.
The final fight makes no sense from a logical stand point or even when looking at it through the wonky power levels of Avengers Assemble. Maleficent has magic powers and she can do just about anything, but one hit from the iron net and suddenly she is powerless. She just stands there as the prince beats her up and that’s pretty annoying. I expect her to put up a much better fight than that. Also, she should have transformed her partner out of his dragon form when they tried to capture him and then quickly transformed him back so that the chains would have slipped off. That would have been genius, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
The soundtrack is pretty nonexistent. It’s unfortunate, but to be expected since that is a big weakness for most live action films. They just can’t seem to put a good soundtrack together for some reason. The special effects are solid though and this won’t hurt the film, it just won’t help it either.
One thing that you should note is that this film may be rated PG, but I do feel that PG 13 is more appropriate. As far as I am concerned, PG films should not have any blood or scenes that get too intense. The scenes with the net start to stretch that point and Maleficent losing her wings was also rather intense. It would be a very mild PG 13, but I do think that it would be the correct rating.
Also, while I did like Maleficent a lot, she was way too gullible in the opening scenes. How can you trust someone that you’ve barely met and who deserted you for years? That scene was pretty painful to watch and you just have to wonder if the film could have made it a little more believable. I mean, the King was suspect from the every start! He looks shifty and certainly not like the friendly type. That certainly hurts her character as she would have been almost perfect otherwise. Even when she’s in her evil phase, she’s still nice to her loyal followers and doesn’t just start beating them around for the lolz. That’s a true villain.
Overall, Maleficent was a solid film. It beats Transformers, Hunger Games Mockingjay, TMNT, and X Men Days of Future Past as far as this year’s big films go. It still loses to Captain America, Spider Man, Guardians, and Godzilla, but landing in the top 5 is no small feat. I doubt that the Hobbit will pass it so it should be pretty safe there. A sequel for this film could be intriguing provided that we get a solid villain. Now that we know that good fight scenes are a possibility, I’m ready for her to fight another being with wings and super speed. That could potentially be the best Disney Princess film to date. Ah well, first we have to get through Cinderella…one of the few films that didn’t really have a villain. (At least, a villain with superheroes) You will enjoy this film from start to finish and it is a title that you will walk away from feeling pretty content. I recommend this if you’re looking for a fun Disney film to watch or if you just want a classic monsters vs humans film. Even if you are just looking for a summer blockbuster film, this one would fit the bill to an extent. I would argue that it has about as much action as Xmen and certainly more than the Hunger Games. Sleeping Beauty is officially my favorite Disney Princess part of the franchise for now.