I haven’t seen the original Sleeping Beauty in years. I really don’t remember much about it, outside of an attractive girl put to sleep by a curse that could only be awaken by a kiss. I vaguely remembered a dragon and some other things as well, so when I walked into Maleficent I walked into this story mostly blind, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.
In the original Sleeping Beauty they never really gave you a good reason as to why the Maleficent was evil. She just seemed evil for the sake of being evil. The best villains in my opinion have a backstory and a valid reason for why they do what they have done. There are two sides to every tale, and Maleficent tells the other side of story.
Maleficent starts out with Maleficent as a child, in the fairy land of Moor, growing up happy as can be until one day she meets a human that will change her life forever. Maleficent is partly a story of a woman scorn, but it is also a story of true love. One of the movies I felt it closely resembled was one of my all-time favorite films, The Princess Bride. Just like in The Princess Bride, nothing is more important than true love. One really great lesson you learn is that true love doesn’t happen instantly. It’s something that takes time to grow deeper. Maleficent, may be one of the best love stories put into cinema in recent memory.
Angelina Jolie looked great in the movie, but it’s also one of the only negatives of the film. The best movies usually allow you to watch the person and think you are watching the character on the screen and not the actor. I felt like Angelina Jolie overshadowed the character so much that I rarely though of her as Maleficent, and I always just thought of her as Angelina Jolie. It felt like I was watching Angelina Jolie with some bad ass powers. I had a similar feeling in X-Men: Days of Future Past with Peter Dinklage. I love that guy, but all I could hear and think about while watching him was Tyrion Lannister, and not Dr. Bolivar Trask (did you even remember his name if you weren’t a comic fan?), the character he was supposed to be portraying. All in all it works, but I wonder if the movie and the character might have been better served by using an unknown to be a little less distracting.
In early trailers of Maleficent, I was really worried about the special effects. They didn’t look believable at all. They seemed to have the quality of a decent TV shows special effects, but not what you would expect for a large scale movie. Thankfully they were just early trailers. The final product looks wonderful on screen on screen. The 3D looked decent, but don’t think I would have missed much if I caught a 2D version of it instead.
All in all I really enjoyed Maleficent. It’s a movie with a little bit of everything for everyone. It’s a love story, a bit of a comedy, an action flick, and something kids would enjoy as well. While I’m sure that there might be Sleeping Beauty purists that don’t like the changes to their story, but if you go in with an open mind I’m sure you will enjoy this film.