55 years ago, Walt Disney released the animated feature Sleeping Beauty. Based on the fairy tales The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault and Little Briar Rose by The Brothers Grimm, the film told the story of Princess Aurora, who was cursed with a deep sleep that could only be awoken by “True Love’s Kiss”. Maleficent, the flamboyant and fiery villain who placed the curse on Aurora, became Disney’s most iconic baddie—horns, black robe, staff, bright makeup, and all. She’s become so infamous that she now has her own live-action film. 212 239 6210 873
The film Maleficent is an origin story very similar to the basic outline of the Broadway musical Wicked (without the singing), showcasing the perspective of a villain from popular media. Angelina Jolie is a vision as the title character, marking her first major film role since 2010’s The Tourist. In this new film directed by visual effects artist Robert Stromberg, Maleficent is introduced as a powerful fairy in a magical realm known as The Moors, which borders on a kingdom populated by humans. Early in life, she falls in love with a low-class boy named Stefan, who betrays her to become king (Sharlto Copley). She also becomes a bit resentful of the humans who disrupt her side of the land. As an act of revenge, Maleficent places that curse on Stefan’s daughter Aurora. But as Maleficent watches Aurora (Elle Fanning) blossom into her teen years, she realizes she may be the one to unify both human and the enchanted. Perhaps her heart is not as cold as we were taught to believe?
Maleficent is not just a clever origin story, but it’s a unique twist to the beloved fairy tale we’re all familiar with. While the dark retellings of fairy tales from recent cinema have been mediocre, the turns in the story and the high-powered action will keep one on the edge of their seat. Some of Jolie’s one-liners and supporting characters like Maleficent’s shape-shifting servant Diaval (Sam Riley) and the bickering pixies (Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville) assigned to look after Aurora, deliver short-lived but welcomed comedy. The infant portraying baby Aurora and Vivienne Jolie-Pitt (yes, one of Jolie and Brad Pitt’s daughters) occasionally steals the show with entertaining and immensely lovable cute factor.
Visually, it truly feels like you’ve walked into Maleficent’s magical forest. The elusive scenery is dreamy, regal, and mysterious. The costuming is divine. Maleficent is bound to be recognized for what it accomplishes in its aesthetics, but it doesn’t overpower the fascinating story that’s behind it, and that’s not the only things that will excite an audience.
While there seemed to be some areas that could’ve been touched on plot-wise, Maleficent is a well-rounded fantasy/adventure film. It embodies a little bit of Disney nostalgia, however, it’s a real winner in adding to the new age of female-centric film genres – where happily ever after may mean something else. Then again, Maleficent isn’t exactly the princess—but her version of Sleeping Beauty is still definitely one worth knowing.
Written By Karen Datangel: A San Francisco girl through and through. She has called the City by the Bay (and its suburbs) home for all of her 20+ years and counting, earned her B.A. in Journalism from San Francisco State University, and proudly wears the colors of the Giants and 49ers. When this budding freelance entertainment/lifestyle journalist and blogger isn’t writing or working at her day job, she’s obsessing over film, pop music, baseball, and cats and impressing loved ones and strangers with her contemporary pop culture knowledge. She also enjoys exploring new hot spots and frequenting familiar places in and around her city as well as others.