The Rundown: The story of the classic Disney villain Maleficent’s fall from grace and rise to power is prettily executed, but overall simply another capitalization on an old classic. While it has good pacing, and wonderful exposition, it fails to deliver in the realms of believable and intriguing character development, being true to its source material, and following through on all that it promised. As anyone who has read my Frozen review would know, I am a die-hard Disney fan. I grew up on the stuff, and it holds a unique and special place in my heart. Very few films really captured me like the golden age classic Sleeping Beauty, with its panoramic backdrops, amazingly progressive design, and wonderful music, it stand out among Disney’s myriad classics. So when the initial teaser for Maleficent was released I was quite ecstatic. As a villain, Maleficent has some amazingly cinematic scenes, and her portrayal in that movie was truly memorable. I only assumed a feature film focused solely on her would be equally so. Unfortunately this is not the case. So we’ll play a game of good-news, bad-news. The good news is that Maleficent was not a total borefest. They do some things really well. The recreation of the christening scene, even with the minor changes, was phenomenal to see in brilliant live-action, and Angelina Jolie does a more than passable job of portraying the raw power and menace that Maleficent brings to the table. I also very much liked the exposition of the film. The setup of two warring kingdoms, and Maleficent’s place in them, was very well done. It also gave her a believable motivation for the evil deeds everyone knows so well. Not justified, but believable. Stefan (Sharlto Copley) transgresses against her in so intimate and vile a way, that it is no wonder that she seeks the most terrible kind of revenge, even if her target was somewhat misplaced. So there’s the good news, it had fun parts, it’s really pretty, and they do some story set up very well. Now the bad-news. This movie is, basically, a fairy tale. A fairy tale with a happily ever after for pretty much everyone. Therein lies the one major flaw in this movie. The movie itself sets you up with the narrator explaining that there are two sides to every story, and some stories might be different than you initially heard. I was very excited by this, the entire idea of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent’s side of things could have been really interesting, except that nowhere in this entire film, save one or two scenes, is there a way in which the original Sleeping Beauty story could have been told at all. This film should have been a contemporary of Wicked, in that it seemed like it wanted to put a more human face on a villain that was seen as pure evil for no discernible reason. Instead we get a mushy retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with Maleficent as the hero instead of the villain. This movie should not have been a fairy tale; it needed to be a tragedy. It no doubt needed to make Maleficent relatable, and they do a decent job of this, but in the end she still was a villain, and she still did horrible things. This needed to be exemplified, and it really had no place in the film. Overall the film was not boring, which gets it to three stars, and it even had some humor, and there goes my half point, but for a film that had the potential to be as groundbreaking as Wicked, as heart wrenching a story as Bambi, and as profound a movie as What Dreams May Come, I am unimpressed. In this society where we are hearing about the violence perpetrated on women every day, where we struggle to find some kind of sense in a world of monsters, Disney had a great opportunity to talk about how violence begets violence in a quite intimate, and yet soft way. A way to tell it that could have been beautiful as well as profound. Instead they decided to give their newest Disney princess a set of horns. If you want a mindless night of CGI effects and fairy tale romance, then Maleficent is the movie for you, but if you were hoping for a tale of a misunderstood villain, driven to the vilest revenge, I’d look somewhere else. Maleficent (2014)3.5Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Maleficent (2014) Blu-ray Review - Psycho Drive-In November 11, 2014 […] man Jeffrey Roth reviewed Maleficent back in June and while he thought the film was beautiful to look at, felt it dropped the ball when […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.