Jean-Paul’s Rating : 2/5 stars
Bottom Line: A much improved second and third act can’t save this sloppy retelling of a classic Disney villain.
This movie is purportedly supposed to be about the true telling of a story that got twisted to make Maleficent look like the bad guy. I guess it delivers at that, but it does so so entirely sloppily that it insults the intelligence of anyone above ten years old and draws on so many stereotypes of women that even girls below ten years old should be insulted.
In the beginning, young Maleficent is the goodest of the goodie two shoes. She heals the trees and is loved by all the fairy folk and has powerful wings that allow her to soar quickly across crappily drawn special effect backgrounds. She is also, for reasons unexplained, the only of the fairy folk to be entirely human-like besides having the wings and the pointy ears and the impossibly high cheekbones. She also always wears lipstick. Even as a ten-year old. Who is a fairy. The mortal enemies of the fairy folk are the humans who hate the fairies because…well, just because that’s what humans do.
But then the human boy, Stefan, comes around and they fall in love. They then wait until Disney thinks it is ok for teenagers to kiss which happens to be sixteen years of age. Since they kissed, they are obviously in love. But it wasn’t meant to be because Stefan soon disappears to pursue humanly pursuits like becoming king even though that’s not at all how kings are chosen. This paragraph is just as long as they spend explaining the nascent love affair.
Because, as I mentioned before, the humans hate the fairies, one of the human kings decides to attack the fairies. He does this because, and I kid you not, he made a campaign promise to his people. Led by Maleficent, the fairies lay blood free waste to the human army. Gotta keep that PG rating. The fairies are so much more powerful than the humans that only a complete idiot would ever even consider attacking them.
Now, sorely defeated and dying from his wounds, the King declares that anyone who kills Maleficent will be the next King. Enter Stefan, once again, who happens to be a pot-boy or something to the king. He runs to Maleficent to warn her that the King has put a price on her head. The intervening years just melt away and they quickly fall in love once again. But, oh ho, what’s this? Stefan isn’t really in love and he feeds Maleficent a potion that puts her into a deep sleep. Why doesn’t he just feed her a deadly poison? Well because then he couldn’t have second thoughts about stabbing her to death in her sleep, of course! So instead, he cuts off her wings because that’s much more humane.
Thus, does Stefan become king and Maleficent immediately become pure evil. Her evilness is mostly confined to taking over and enslaving the fairy folk in vague, non-descriptive ways, because isn’t that just like a woman to redirect her rage towards those that don’t deserve it? Am I right, fellas? Maleficent continues her exclusive, ambiguous, fairy reign of terror until the birth of King Stefan’s daughter, Aurora.
Maleficent curses Aurora to be beautiful and loved by all and sugar and spice and everything nice until her sixteenth birthday when she shall prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into eternal slumber until awakened by true love’s kiss. This causes King Stefan to destroy every spinning wheel in the country and to send Aurora to live with three fairies. There are innumerable problems with this. Why would he trust any fairy? They are also quite obviously three of the stupidest beings alive. They are also three of the most annoying beings alive. They are also only one foot tall. And, slightly besides the point, they are also the creepiest humanesque fairies that computer generated special effects has ever devised. But, no, here you creepy, idiotic, annoying, anthropomorphic fairies, take my daughter and hide her away from no threat whatsoever for the next sixteen years. I get that the fairies are there for comic relief, but these are the most piss poor comic relief characters ever devised by Disney. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Finally, after all of this, the story starts to get, well, not good, but decent. It should come as no surprise that this also happens to coincide with the retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Of course, Its not the same as the original story since it is told from Maleficent’s point of view. I won’t go much into this part except to say that while it is sort of saccharine, it’s effective and we finally get some good acting in the movie from Angelina Jolie as Maleficient and Elle Fanning as Aurora. The movie continues to be decent until the very end.
Ugh, the ending. “Maleficent” should be shown in art classes everywhere as an example of how many different ways you can screw up the ending of a movie. First off, everyone lives happily ever after. Including Maleficent. It makes absolutely no sense for her to live in this story, since she did die in “Sleeping Beauty”. Second, Aurora still appears to get the Prince even though he was more a side joke in the movie instead of a driver of the story. This is Disney, so every girl needs a prince I guess. Third, Aurora becomes queen of the fairies because…that’s what little girls dream of I guess. Fourth, the whole point of the movie was to drive home the point that there are two sides of the story and you shouldn’t necessarily trust the first one you hear, but in this case one of them is so obviously verifiably false since Maleficent still exists in one whereas in the other she’s dead. If “Maleficent” were true, “Sleeping Beauty” was told by the losers and “Sleeping Beauty” happened to get out there as truth despite all evidence to the contrary. The problem is that there has never been an instance of the losing side of a battle being able to propagate a false story. In order to make the telling of “Maleficent” make any sense whatsoever, the story of “Sleeping Beauty” must be true except that Maleficent didn’t actually die. Instead she was able to sneak away and eventually capture both Aurora and Prince Phillip and ensorcell them both into telling the untrue tale of “Maleficent”. I kind of like that thought.