So, the evil queen is not so evil? Or so you think? But maybe she’s is? Then there is that thing she did? But there is more to the story.
I am not a huge super-fan of retelling the old fables, primarily because more gets lost than gets added. However, it is big business and Disney/ABC is making a killing off of it of late. Their best offering yet is Maleficent, which I admit, is a very good movie. In fact, as this years summer blockbusters have gone, I rate it in the same category as Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Godzilla, which puts it ahead of what I think was a bit of a let down in X-Men Days of Future Past.
You know the basic story, so you think. There is a dispute between a powerful magic user named Maleficent and a King. In the process of their struggle, the king’s innocent daughter, Aurora is put under a dark enchantment that can only be broken by true love’s kiss.
What I Really Liked
The acting was superb. Angelina Jolie showed that she has the chops to move beyond eye candy and actually carry a film on talent alone. Sam Riley is also very good as Jolie’s sidekick, the crow. I wasn’t as impressed with Elle Fanning and Sharlito Copley. Neither one of them sold me on much of their character. What I felt for Aurora, for example, flowed more from Jolie’s performance than Fanning’s. But don’t let that discourage you too much. Jolie and Riley are enough to warrant the ticket purchase alone.
Like most good stories, there is a generational aspect to the narrative that I find very appealing. Aurora is not the prime mover, but it is the sins of the parents and the trauma done decades ago that serve as the prime mover. Parents have secrets, and they don’t always tell us everything about what happened. Discovering this is often the stuff that propels us into adulthood.
The movie was appropriate for my whole family, and I would have been okay watching it with my children when they were as young as five or six.
The dialogue was well written. There is a snappy vibe to the script, with the best lines going to Jolie.
The CGI was good. Unlike the miserable CGI for, say, Thor or Pompeii, this was well done. I know it was well done because at no time during the film did the special effects dominate the scene or detract from one. They simply added to it. The one exception might be Jolie’s cheekbones. It wasn’t until about twenty minutes in that I realized her cheekbones, apparently in order to look more fairy like, had been altered to protrude. I thought they were really that prominent. I kept thinking, ‘Angie, eat a cheeseburger sometime or something.’ I think that might have been more of distraction, than say her horns, which never bothered me at all, at least not like that emaciated cheekbone look.
What I Didn’t Like
I didn’t like the narrator’s voice. I don’t mean her physical voice, I mean, I think the film could have been better without the narrator altogether. We would have figured stuff out.
As good as the movie was, there were moments when I was consciously aware of the film borrowing from other movies I’ve seen. The opening battle felt like it was ripped from the Chronicles of Narnia while other elements were decidedly Frozenesque. Ironically, it wasn’t until the very end that the picture reminded me of Sleeping Beauty.
As a dad, I didn’t like the one dimensional portrayal of Aurora’s father. In fact, parents are almost completely absent in this film altogether. Which leads me to another thing that I didn’t like so much.
Nepotism. It does not escape me that Jolie is Hollywood royalty. She is married to Prince Brad Pitt and her father is Jon Voight while her mother was Marcheline Bertrand. Elle Fanning is Dakota’s sister. We should be thankful Dakota is not in this film or it would have been filled with unnecessary screaming. My ears still hurt from War of the Worlds. One of the scenes of young Aurora is Jolie’s daughter Vivienne. For some reason I kept expecting Jaden Smith to show up as the prince. I am not completely against families helping each other out and all, but it seems to me like a little more diversity could have been found in this film.
If you are looking for a really good film that everyone can watch, then see Maleficent and skip X-Men.
image from http://www.elle.gr