Maleficent (2014) stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, and Sharlto Copley. It is classified as an Action, Adventure, Family film with a total run time of one hour and thirty-seven minutes. Disney refreshes the famous story of Sleeping Beauty with the untold story of the presumed villain, Maleficent. We get an in-depth look into her motivations, drives, and fundamentals of her character. Disney also provides reasons why there is such animosity between Maleficent and King Stefan. WARNING THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Maleficent Plot & Characters
The original Sleeping Beauty story told by Disney leaves a lot of questions about the story. Why is Maleficent evil? What grudge does she have against the royalty? How does she have her magic powers? How can she be so brilliant and yet keep some incompetent help? This film gives us a full history of one of everyone’s favorite Disney villain. We meet her when she’s a young girl and find out that her magic stems from her heritage as a faerie. She meets Stefan who is a young and ambitious orphan with few possessions to call his own. As an unlikely friendship blossoms into love, both of their worlds shape who they become. Stefan ultimately betrays her and cuts off her wings to meet his own ambitions.
The portrayal of her rage and grieving is well done. It is easy to move the character as she goes through a cascade of different emotions. The loss of her wings also gives the audience a fantastic reason for why Maleficent is always seen with a staff. The loss of the weight on her back would be a huge adjustment to balance.
As the plot moves along Maleficent watches over the child to ensure the child does not succumb to other perils other than her curse. Her brief interactions and constant watch over the growing child turns to love and leads her back to a place balance where she has something else to live for. This is contrasted harshly with Stefan who grows more zealous and crazy in his revenge as the years pass.
A Different Message About Love
In a refreshing break from Disney tradition, this movie challenges some of the traditional notions of what real love is and how it works between two people. The film does introduce us to Prince Phillip and the introduction of the romance between him and Aurora but they make it clear in the movie that the relationship is fledgling. It is not true love yet. Disney further surprised audiences by modeling sexual consent. The three faeries who raise Aurora are convinced that the Prince’s kiss will break the spell and urge him to go forward and kiss her. In a wonderful twist, Phillip questions the right to do so, claiming he barely knows her. It is a small but significantly important message. One of the best things about it is how casually it is delivered.
Disney’s solution to waking Aurora from the spell acknowledges that real love is more than the type of love that exists between romantic partners. It can exist between any two people, from different situations, where it has the chance to grow. It also reinforces the idea that no one is beyond love and it is never too late.
Effects and the Little Things
The film is well executed in its cinematography and use of CG effects. There are only one or two moments where the CG looks less than perfect. The exploration of the faerie realm also gives us the opportunity to see some beautiful and creative creatures. Even the beings that are meant to be more intimidating have a grace and beauty to them. There’s also some great little touches for Maleficent’s powers. When she is using her magic for evil, the energy appears as green while when it is positive or more neutral it shows up as yellow. A nice touch is that in keeping with the idea of balance each release of power, regardless of its purpose, has a small hint of the opposing intention.
Disney really make some different and fantastic choices with this film. Between providing a fantastic backstory and all the small details that really add to the film, Love of Gothic gives it a solid 5 bats!
Revel in the Dark Side
Maleficent is easily a favored Disney villain for many and its easy to see why. Her charisma makes being dark look ever so much fun. We love the dark and if you are on this site, you probably do as well. Love of Gothic seeks to create an inclusive online alternative community and present you with more than just what may be in your immediate circle of culture. Share this review on social media with others. Join our mailing list to be kept in the loop or create an account and provide a listing for your alternative business, music, or art. Join Love of Gothic today and build a closer community online!