Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Sam Riley
PG cert, 97 minutes
This heart-warming film is Sleeping Beauty like you’ve never seen it before. A clever twist on the 1959 Disney animation, this live-action film explores the once-thought-of-as-evil Maleficent’s past and reasoning behind her actions which the original version does not describe. In the 2014 film we learn that Maleficent was once a kind fairy who was betrayed by King Stefan, the boy she
loved. She is drugged by him and awakens to find both him and her wings have disappeared. Heartbroken by this, she begins her transformation into the Maleficent the audience thought
they knew. Where Sleeping Beauty portrayed her as cursing Aurora simply out of evil, we now realise that it was out of revenge. The new film is not only a great family film with humour throughout, but is also a beautiful story. It makes the audience question what appears to be a simple case of good and evil, and shows that things are much more complex in the case of Maleficent.
The audience will sympathise with Maleficent throughout her on-screen emotional journey, as ironically she becomes a mother figure to Aurora, who helps Maleficent to overcome her heartbreak and bitterness, and to become a better person. Although there is a brief appearance from Prince Phillip, unlike in Sleeping Beauty, in Maleficent it is a kiss from Maleficent herself that awakens Aurora from her slumber. This is a nice change to the original and adds a more realistic element to the storyline. Aurora and Maleficent have been on a journey together in the film and it seems only right that the “true love” which awakens Aurora is between them. This twist also emphasises a new element in Disney films, with, as in Frozen (2013), it being family love that conquers all and women having more power than the traditional Disney princesses, waiting on a prince to run in and save the day.
Angelina Jolie plays the role of Maleficent fantastically, and all the other characters are played well too. There are sly references throughout to the 1959 film; for instance, Maleficent’s pet crow, which we are so used to seeing with her, is given a new dynamic as we discover how he is found. The beloved red, green and blue fairies, this time under different names, bring humour to the film, as in the original.
Overall, I would definitely recommend everyone to watch Maleficent. It will make you laugh, maybe even cry, and leave you happy that Maleficent was not actually evil and that instead she watched over and protected Aurora (who cutely mistakes her for her fairy godmother). You may not have thought you would ever sympathise with Maleficent and like her after seeing Sleeping Beauty, but now you will. There is more to this film than a simple case of good and bad, but a relationship between someone who is misunderstood and someone who is naïve and unjudgemental is explored. A very clever storyline!
4 and a half stars