Thursday, May 29, 2014
Maleficant :Not The Sleeping Beauty You Remember
Taking a classic animated film and bringing it to life isn't an easy task, even for Disney. They tried this before in some capacity with the Sorcerer's Apprentice and while I didn't hate it, it didn't move the needle. This go around they tell the story of Sleeping Beauty through the eyes of one of Disney's greatest villains, Maleficent. Angelina Jolie is cast in the title role and she brings with her some baggage. She is a great actress, but there are people who dislike her for the sake of it. Rumors of tension between her and director Robert Stromberg, a inflated budget, and people not crazy about the concept in general makes it a high risk endeavor. Will the risk pay off?
Two neighboring kingdoms have their issues. Maleficant is a care free fairy living in a magical forest. She meets a human, falls in love, and grows to be a protector of her forest kingdom. She is betrayed by her only love and grows cold and evil. Upon learning that the man who broke her heart and robbed her of one her most precious possessions, has become the king she becomes more angry. She curses his first born daughter and builds a wall of thorns. The king grows mad while Maleficant watches and befriends his daughter. Soon she begins to regret the curse that cannot be broken and discovers that she is both the hero and villain of the story.
Angelina Jolie looks the part. She can play dark and lonely, but at the same time is great when she brings comedy to the classic villain. The look of the film is incredible and it really does a great job of bringing the character to life. She is the villain of the story, but you cannot help but sympathize with her plight. The magic is fun and it's tough to imagine anyone, but Jolie in the role.
The rest of the cast is fun too. Sharlto Copley is such a good villain. He is a great actor that I think a lot of people over look. He is the bad guy, but he does a great job struggling with the evil side of himself. Copley is the king, but is so good at being crazy that it's fun to watch. He is great when he begs and believable when dishing out threats.
Maleficant is visually stunning. The story takes what you loved about the classic and creates depth. It makes the old new again. Great cast, great balance of action and story, and fun for nearly every age and gender. Disney has lost a lot in the last few summers. John Carter, The Lone Ranger, and a couple of others. Maleficant was a risk, but some risks pay off and this one should. It is definitely worth the reward and truly is a beautiful film. It's not the classic Sleeping Beauty, but it offers up so much more.