In 1959, “Sleeping Beauty” came out in theaters. Overtime, it became one of Disney’s memorable animated movies. Six Decades Later, a part origin movie part remake focuses on the main antagonist none other than “Maleficent” played by Angelina Jolie.
Maleficent was released in 2014. (same year Guardians Of The Galaxy came out) It received mixed reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Regardless of divisive reactions, it managed to make enough money at the box office. A sequel titled, “Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil” was released in 2019. It received negative reviews from critics.
The reason why I wanna share my real thoughts on Maleficent, is an upcoming prequel to “101 Dalmatians” known as “Cruella” starring one of my favorite actresses Emma Stone is filling in Glenn Close’s high heels. Maleficent is perhaps the first Disney villain related movie. By the way, Glenn is an executive producer giving Emma some advice. I’m also getting ready for Angelina Jolie’s upcoming movie “Eternals” set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU for short.
It doesn’t matter if SPOILERS are present. We’re fully aware of Sleeping Beauty’s story countless times. Beware of Maleficent’s alterations that will probably push the purest Disney fans’ buttons. I admit. I think Sleeping Beauty isn’t a masterpiece. I’m tired of pretending it’s excellent. If you wanna read my review, check out my article on why it doesn’t hold up so well.
Beautiful & Ugly Aspects
Beautiful: Angelina Jolie did an excellent job for her performance as the titular character.
Other Cast Members such as Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, (Robin from Titans) Imelda Staunton, (Umbridge from Harry Potter) Leslie Manville & Juno Temple all did a great job for their respective performances.
Action Sequences were decent. Makes me wanna replay any “Kingdom Hearts” game with Maleficent.
Linda Woolverton wrote the script. She did ok altering Sleeping Beauty’s plot points as significant improvements. Except for two problems I’ve listed on the negative section.
Cinematography is shot carefully never suffering from excessive Shaky Cam.
Visual Effects are stunning bringing creature designs and environmental locations to life.
James Newton Howard (Unbreakable, The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Dark Knight) orchestrated the music.
Prosthetic Makeup was applied transforming Angelina as the titular character. Her cheekbones are an exact look from the animated movie.
Costume Designs were custom made by tailors as each one reflects a specific character’s personality.
The Tone is slightly darker than the animated film.
Maleficent is given a fleshed out origin story. She forms a close friendship with Stefan since childhood. As a result of the kingdom’s prejudice towards her wings and Stefan not willing to the tell truth fearing treason might damage his reputation as king, Maleficent puts a curse on baby Aurora. When she turns 16, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel, causing her to go sleep. Maleficent’s childhood isn’t told as a jumbled mess like “Rob Zombie’s Halloween.”
Aurora has more characterization and dialogue than the original and has more lines than Anna Paquin in “The Irishman.”
Aurora & Prince Phillip’s romance is downplayed for realistic purposes. Their chemistry from the animated movie felt one dimensional yet dull.
Stefan isn’t a goofy dad from the animated version. He’s a dignified king with a troubled childhood who used to be friends with Maleficent.
Character Development involving Maleficent. As the film progresses, she becomes attached to Aurora, because of her close friendship with Stefan.
Maleficent has an army of walking trees like the ones from” The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.” Speaking of Middle Earth, “The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies” and the video game “Shadow Of Mordor” both came out in 2014.
Maleficent actually keeps an eye on Aurora something the original lacked when she sent her henchmen to track down her whereabouts. The remake doesn’t really make her an incompetent antagonist like any James Bond villain (except Alec Trevelyan from Goldeneye) in the pre-Daniel Craig era. Maleficent is Hans Landa (intelligence wise) from “Inglorious Basterds” who knows a target’s location.
Conflicted with is dying father, Stefan spares Maleficent by cutting her wings off as proof so his father gives him his title as king.
The True Love’s First Kiss is subverted. Prince Phillip attempts to wake up Aurora by kissing her on the lips. It doesn’t work. Breaking the spell won’t work unless you actually know the person for a few weeks and develop a deep bond. Maleficent is actually the one who wakes Aurora up by kissing her on the forehead. Aurora’s curse is lifted, because she’s like a daughter to Maleficent.
At the end of the movie, an elderly Aurora is revealed as the narrator.
Ugly: The Three Fairies are depicted as bumbling buffoons. I can’t stand their incompetence and ugly CGI pixie form. They’re not the three witches from “Hocus Pocus.” The Three Fairies can’t take care of a baby. Maleficent has to do all the dirty work. In the original, the fairies actually put a lot of effort for Aurora.
The Climax never shows Maleficent unleashing her ultimate form as a dragon. Remember in the animated original she transforms into a dragon fighting Prince Phillip? Why didn’t she do it in this movie? Leaves me no choice but to Double Down this missed opportunity. It’s like Godzilla without using his atomic breath, Wolverine without his claws and Deadpool’s mouth shut in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
The Final Verdict: B-
Despite my two big gripes, Maleficent is an improvement of Sleeping Beauty. I think the former is by far superior than the latter. Again, Sleeping Beauty isn’t a masterpiece. I’m tired of pretending it’s excellent. If you’re gearing up for Emma Stone’s upcoming Cruella prequel, go ahead and watch Maleficent. Can Cruella be Disney’s equivalent to Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar winning performance as “Joker?” We shall see.
Here’s a reminder. Don’t forget to check out my review of Sleeping Beauty on why it doesn’t hold up so well.