Most people that I know as movie goers were looking forward to Maleficent, and not just because Angelina Jolie was the leading actress in it (although it certainly didn’t deter anyone I know). People were more looking forward to a new outlook on a well known tale, Sleeping Beauty. Undoubtedly Maleficent was a wonderfully told story, but was it worth going to see right when it came out or should you have waited to see it when it came out on Blue-ray and DVD?
With Jolie’s persistence in keeping Maleficent true to her character in the animated version as well as in the Grimm’s written account of the story, I believe she may have made the film what it was. Without Maleficent’s razor sharp cheekbones and her features being both beautiful and terrifying, I highly doubt she would have made quite the impression that she did with them. Of course this fearsome fairy’s story was unfolded in the common way: girl falls in love with a boy, boy betrays her, she becomes angry and in her rage she does something that she will soon regret. However, the portrayal of the characters was beautiful and intense, a vivid, slow burn of redemption on Maleficent’s behalf and a decline into madness by her once love-now enemy King Stefan.
What I would say is that it felt a bit shallow as far as looking into what was happening at the time—it glossed over everything Maleficent was doing besides looking after Aurora, even though it was implied that the entire time she was also keeping the King’s army away from her thorny walls that separated their two kingdoms. There was a battle here and a battle there, but they didn’t feel like they were a part of some greater on-going war. This may have been part of the reason why the movie received some not-so-glowing reviews.
Another reason might be its pessimistic view on love—which is a staple to all Disney Princesses. A true and everlasting love of some Prince or another; but in Maleficent it isn’t meant to be, necessarily. They do leave it open-ended, but it isn’t a love that’s set in stone. Maleficent says many times throughout the movie that “true love doesn’t exist”. I believe what she meant was not to be taken as a dark view of the world, but to say that you may love once and be heartbroken, but then fall in love with someone else and have it be just as strong, just as deep and thrilling as it was the first time; that a first love doesn’t have to be the only love.
Even with these drawbacks, Maleficent is a feel-good movie that still has a lot of the elements from Sleeping Beauty, but is aimed more at a grown up crowd. The topics it covers definitely earns it a good mark from me: a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this movie to anyone 13 or older, as some of the violence is a bit graphic for anyone much younger. Especially if you loved the Disney Princess movies growing up, I suggest you watch Maleficent, but maybe a home viewing experience would be more worth it.