Monday, November 10, 2014

Maleficent

by Alyssa Couball, Writing Intern (with Germar Derron)

I really wanted to despise Maleficent. After someone butchered the Alice in Wonderland remake, I grew skeptical of cartoon-based remakes, prequels, and spin-offs. And am I the only one tiring of Angelina Jolie showing up and showing off in big motion pictures? She’s super talented and beautiful and she’s married to perhaps the most handsome guy in show biz. She’s also charitable. But, c’mon! Once I learned she would play the main character, Maleficent, my eyes rolled.

I wanted to say this movie is completely awful, but I will ignore the pessimist in me and admit that it’s quite brilliant. 

Maleficent, starring Elle Fanning (Aurora), Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Sam Riley (Diaval), and Sharlto Copley (Stefan), follows the untold story of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s iconic villain. Maleficent begins her story in a peaceful forest kingdom. We quickly learn that Maleficent is a fairy. She entices others with her broad, stunning black wings, and matching set of horns on her head. In the forest, she meets a young human named Stefan who tries to steal from the magical land. Maleficent orders Stefan to return to the forest what is rightfully theirs. The two embark on a path of friendship and love. As the pair grow older, though, their love for one another burns out as they see each other less and less.

The forest is threatened by a nearby kingdom of humans that want to destroy it. Maleficent defeats the humans, and becomes the protector of her land. Eventually, the King declares that whoever kills Maleficent will become the new King. The King’s son, Stefan, accepts the challenge, knowing that he must make the ultimate betrayal. Stefan does not posses the strength to kill his once friend, Maleficent, but he does cut off her best asset. Stefan takes her wings.

Focused on revenge, Maleficent faces an uphill battle with the humans, the King, and herself. Her once pure and soft heart becomes cold and hateful. The once fanciful and fantastical forest becomes dark and dreary. Consequently, Maleficent places a curse upon the King’s infant child, Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent wants to hate the child, but realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom. She also holds the key to Maleficent’s happiness.

Aurora pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls into an everlasting sleep. Maleficent sends a boy to kiss the princess, but to their astonishment, she does not awaken. It’s only when Maleficent kisses her forehead does she wake. Maleficent did not know she possessed this true love. As the two leave, Aurora’s father sets a trap for Maleficent; they battle. Her sidekick, a crow by the name of Dialvo, turns into a fire­breathing dragon. Aurora runs to escape, but she runs into a room where she makes a discovery. She learns that her father removed the fairy’s wings. 

The magical wings then fly away to their owner--Maleficent. She is struck with power as her wings reconnect. She snatches the King away and flies him outside, where they battle. Maleficent cannot kill her former friend. It’s only when he tries to kill her that she drops him to his death. The King is gone; evil is gone. Aurora, Dialvo, and Maleficent go back to live in the peaceful harmony of the forest--happily ever after.

The live action film remained true to all of the elements from the cartoon movie. It incorporated a prince, a princess, the fire­breathing dragon, magic, fairies, and even the spinning wheel. It also showed this dynamic between good and evil and dark and light. Angelina Jolie is nothing short of superb in portraying how women feel when their prince turns out to be a frog.

The movie is really about the emotional and psychological--how to handle evil in the world, without becoming evil yourself. Additionally, the movie shows off some magnificent special effects. The performances are outstanding! 

The movie may not be suitable for children. However, I am not sure if it’s a children's movie. It’s more of a family film. Also, if you cast actors such as Angelina Jolie or Elle Fanning you cannot pair them with actors like Sharlto Copley--whose ability is less than mediocre.

Before seeing the film, I grew weary at the thought of reviewing it. But after seeing it, I give it two wings way up!
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