I was fortunate enough to see Maleficent on Sunday and I want to keep this post as spoiler free as possible since the film has just come out today, so this review reasonably short.
Maleficent is a imaginative and compelling retailing of a classic and now, frankly, tired fairytale. At no point did I really think “ah now this will happen next” and I feel it really has breathed new life into the story.
I found it mostly unpredictable and a fantastic continuation of the themes in Disney’s recent releases portraying that: 1) true love is not romantic love, it is the love of your friends and family. Which I think is beautiful. And 2) no one is inherently evil. Everyone can be good and evil. The world is ‘full of grey’ and I think this is very important to teach people, and (y)our kids.
The film itself is eye candy. It’s visually gorgeous. From CGI, to costume, to makeup. They have captured Maleficent perfectly in her clothes and her ‘crowns attire’. There’re some great nods to Disney’s animated classic also from the costumes to the castles aesthetic. Also I saw it in 3D and found it worked beautifully in the movie. I even forgot I was wearing glasses. Towards the end of the film there is quite the nail biting action scene in with Angelina really performs fantastically, and pulls it off in a gown for a lot of it. Kudos.
For me where the film fell weak was actually the beginning. It feels like they changed the breath of the audience they wanted to enjoy the film as it develops and didn’t know quite who they wanted to reach first. It starts off catering heavily to a very young audience with sickly sweet visuals that just feel inconsistent with the world they are trying to create, and carries you through the film rather than letting the viewer do some of the thinking, which sadly makes it a bit dull. Later, it develops into much darker themes which will peak an older audience interest.
There we’re some weak performances from some of the child actors at the beginning and just didn’t do the story justice, although they are not in it long and Angelia Jolie most definitely steals the show in the end. Any time the film falters, possibly what seems to be the effects of the cutting room floor, she picks it back up again. Lastly on these negative notes, the three fairies have lost their charm from the original animated classic and we’re quite 2D (ironically as the flittered through the 3D glasses) and at times very annoying. I just don’t feel they have the character development the original film them, and it’s sad to see beloved characters from my childhood not done justice.
I feel if this film aimed at an older audience and cut out the childish fluff at the beginning, it had promise to be an incredible film. Ultimately, it is a dark film that has had it soul diminished for a younger audience, much in the way the first few Harry Potters don’t connect with the darker themes of the story. There is just a slight disconnect you can sense as you watch it.
Before I go I do want to say I actually found Angelia hilarious in this film, especially a scene she does with her own daughter as well as the first few interactions with ‘Beasty’. Charming. The film is worth watching for her performance alone.
I have been very much enjoying Disney’s recent releases and definitely recommend going to see it. It shows the different directions the studio is going with classic tales and it’s hard not to find something to enjoy about it. It’s only a shame it takes 20 minutes to get into. Once the story went quite dark I found it really compelling. Honestly, it’s like what Wicked has done for Wizard of Oz, but lacks a lot of it’s complexity.
After seeing Maleficent I am very excited to see the life action retelling of Cinderella Disney are releasing, coming to cinemas in 2015.
Images sourced via Disney.