Go Home And Do It Again!

Maleficent (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
2½ Out Of 5 Stars
May 30, 2014


If it knew what it was, I'd talk about more than just Angelina’s beauty. 

“There is evil in this world, hatred, and revenge.” 
But there doesn’t have to be.  Like all things in life, we have the choice to be the best of ourselves. 

Angelina Jolie portrays the malicious “Maleficent”, the Disney villainess from the epic tale of Sleeping Beauty (1959), but this is from the point of view from the villain. 

Maleficent falls in love with Stefan (Sharlto Copley, District 9, Elysium, A-Team) who’s blinded by his avidity or his greedy eagerness to become king and ends up betraying the innocent Maleficent.  Her heart is broken, her kingdom taken over by the evil Stefan, Maleficent becomes angry and vengeful due to her pain and the evil witch of a character on all the posters and such for this film takes shape and is born.  Angry, she curses the child of Stefan, Aurora (Elle Fanning), to a death-like sleep at 16 and only true love’s kiss can awaken her.

I’m all for innovation and creativity.  It can be a fairy tale, it can be documentary, and I’ve seen some creatively done documentaries (Catfish, Bully, etc.)  This, however, “is a perfect example of go ... home ... and do it again!” –Agent K, Men In Black

I really admired Maleficent’s spirit when the story turns around and the later acts really take off and this plot gets going.  The one thing I’d say that was done right about this is how relatable our hero’s pain is.  We know how hurt she is and all the evil fruit’s born from such pain are just because she has a broken heart.  This makes for a perfect fairy tale as that sounds just like one, “Oh, she’s just suffering from a broken heart.  Awe, poor Maleficent.  I like her.”  

Aside from the dialogue and the uncertainty this bears of whether it should be heavily CG’d or just an animation with voice over work, amongst other things like the acting and action scenes and fighting that’s trying hard not to go over the limit because they all know a good amount of children will watch this film; business got in the way.  Hollywood does this all the time.  “We have the almighty Angelina Jolie, and her contract says she deserves X amount of screen time, so let’s be sure to give her as much as possible because that’s what’s going to sell this film.”  That was the first thing I found wrong and the first step away from the material instead of closer to falling in “true love” with it.  I noticed there needed to be an older girl here, older than the girl version of Maleficent we’re first introduced to, yet younger than the woman, Angelina Jolie version of Maleficent.  Basically, there needed to be a middle character that grows into Angie (Jolie), instead of making Angie look younger to fill that middle point her life.  I didn’t buy that at all.  Angelina Jolie does not and will not ever look 22!  She’ll always look beautiful, but that’s not what the objective is here. 

The film is caught up in the fact of figuring out what it wants to be, a children’s movie, live action fun for everyone in the family and not just the 7 year olds, a dark and gritty take on the original source material like with Snow White & The Huntsman (2012).  All would be forgiven if it knew what it was and stuck with that, just sprinkle in a little of the “magical” effect and it would’ve been more highly received.  Snow White had its problems *coughKristenStewartcough*, but at least it knew what it was going for.  Maleficent comes off as a fairy tale, a kids film that has a little something for the adults as well that take their children to see it, “how cool is that!” 

No!  “Go home, and do it again!”

One thing’s for sure, Angie looks beautiful, we totally understand and can relate with her pain.  So at least we can watch the darn thing and not turn it off halfway through, but once is way more than enough for me.  

This story does have meaning and purpose.  For it teaches us all the valuable lesson:
“There is evil in this world, hatred, and revenge.”
But there doesn’t have to be.  Like all things in life, we have the choice to be the best of ourselves. 

Fantasy, 97 Minutes, PG
Written by: Linda Woolverton
Based on the original story of “Sleeping Beauty”
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley 

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