Anyone who knows me knows that I love anything Disney. In fact, I didn’t even know how to pronounce “Maleficent” until I started working there, and Sleeping Beauty was never one of my favorites. She often got skipped at the Princess Fairytale Hall, so one day I decided to watch the movie again so I could be more attuned to her story. It’s a good thing I did, because a year later Disney decided to center a film around the movie’s iconic villain.
I’m a really big stickler for movies paying homage to whatever preceded it, whether it be a book, a broadway play, or a comic. So the fact that this movie stayed pretty true to what happened in Sleeping Beauty was a blessing for me. Director Robert Stromberg kept a lot of the visual representations that were created in Sleeping Beauty, with a few modern tweaks. Flora, Fauna and Merryweather all got name changes, Maleficent has wings and is a fairy, and her crow is constantly being turned into things other than a crow. But otherwise, there were a lot of similarities drawn between the two, which was great for anyone who enjoyed the animated film.
Jolie and Stromberg made a great pair. I never once was upset with Jolie’s performance. She didn’t have an easy task, considering her character is at battle with herself for most of the movie. Commendations to the wardrobe and makeup department, who created a strikingly scary yet somehow gorgeous depiction of what a real life Maleficent would look like. Elle Fanning(Aurora) played an overly optimistic and bubbly Aurora, dissimilar to the animated version, where Friar Rose was a little more reserved and a little more sneaky as well. I wasn’t entirely put off by it, since it created chemistry between her and Jolie; they made it look easy.
The film itself wasn’t spectacularly beautiful. I always am able to point out the “money shot” (the scene that costs the most money, you pervs) easily, because it is an establishing shot with a lot of beautiful waterfalls, colors and light, but also is completely computer generated. Even that scene wasn’t particularly spectacular to me, considering nothing will ever beat Frozen’s money shot where they show the frozen waterfalls and ice covered trees complete with ice chandeliers coming from the branches. The theme was always dark around Maleficent when she was filled with revenge, and a bit lighter and more colorful when she wasn’t.
All in all I was happy with the adaptation. The ending made sense and created a little bit of wonder when you left the theatre. The acting was great and the comedy was a good relief from the dark tone of the film. I’d give it a 7/10.