Let’s talk about Maleficent.

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE AND DO NOT WANT / LIKE SPOILERS, DO NOT READ FURTHER. I warn you, I spoil everything.

I really didn’t think that I was going to like Maleficent. I absolutely abhorred Oz the Great and Powerful and thought that the Alice in Wonderland remake with Johnny Depp was little more than “o.k.”

Disney seems to have run out of ideas entirely and because of this, they’ve decided that the only thing that they can do now is remake old movies. The problem with this is they seem to have decided that the best way to do this is to entirely re-write (again) the classic fairy tale.

This really brings up a lot of issues for the screen plays, the writing and the directing I think.

For instance-
Did we really get anything out of knowing that Theodora’s heart was totally shattered by a man that she knew for twelve and a half hours? OTHER than terrible acting, God awful tacky green make up, and Mila Kunis screeching her lines at a decibel that nearly shattered my ear drums (and was it just me or was she totally cross eyed in her first appearance… I nearly died laughing)? Or the overly dramatic turns and stances at the end to “kill time” before harm was actually caused?

The MOVIE Oz the Great and Powerful would have been more appropriately named “Two British Bad tempered witches and a dopey one”… In the end the movie was barely ABOUT Oz. It focused very little on his life, or conflicts, or emotional state. Mostly, he was running, or bumbling, or hiding. The only moment he truly had was at the end.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I hear that a movie is going to be called “Oz the Great and Powerful,” I immediately think to myself, “I hope I get to see a movie about a great men and his great adventures and his ability to overcome”… not the hissy fit that this film was. (And someone please explain to me when they decided that all of the witches had to be British? I felt that it brought all of their characters down terribly. They sounded cocky and prissy, and not at all threatening or frightening. I think it truly staggering when a school teacher from the 1930’s is more intimidating than a supposedly high class actress and her screaming/ screeching and broken heart threnodies and how they turned her green.)

ANYWAYS (If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you).
With the mess that was that movie, and others which were remade, I figured that this was going to suck copious amounts of monkey diarrhea.

But I decided over the weekend to go ahead and see it, and I was pleasantly surprised.

First, I’m going to give an over-view of the film. Then, I’m going to tell you what I disliked/ hated about it. If you want to skip the overview, go from BELOW to the triple stars.

Again, you’ve been warned, many spoilers ahead.

The movie is visually stunning. There are so many colorful and wild moments that are brilliantly orchestrated.

We are first introduced to the character of Maleficent when she is a young child or young adult rather, freely flying and happily greeting other creatures who live in her realm. She is an adolescent with tons of heart who rules over her part of the world.

Wait… she’s an adolescent with tons of heart?
Her name is Maleficent. Maleficent literally means “to harm” or that “you are evil” and “want to do evil things…” How did a sweet innocent little girl end up having a name like Maleficent? I suppose we could ask her parents, but they’re not around to answer… Well, no matter.

Of course, we COULD have simply said that she had no name and that later on, when she became evil, her name BECAME Maleficent. Or, we could have changed it, but never the less, we’ll have to move on.

She’s incredibly young and beautiful, and kind, and spirit filled, and she has giant horns (even though none of the other fairies do) and giant wings (even though none of the other fairies are giant…) In truth (and my husband commented on this too) she really ended up looking more like a female version of what we might imagine lucifer to look like, which admittedly, we both thought was kind of odd.

The movie diverges a little here and shows you a love story between her and King Stefan, who is a young boy and not yet King. He is in fact a stable boy who’s parents are (conveniently) dead. The two fall in love, and he comes to see her repeatedly for a span of a few years. Then at some point, he simply stops coming to see her.

maleficent-2014-214

We learn that it’s because he’s become a servant in the king’s palace and the dying King who attacked the fairy realm, but failed due to Maleficent fighting back with the others, states that whoever kills Maleficent will be crowned King.

Maleficent

Stefan of course forgets all of his love for Maleficent, goes to her, tricks her into spending time with him, and while she sleeps, he cuts her wings off.

Enraged, and heartbroken, and obviously in pain, Maleficent slowly becomes “evil” over a period of a few years.

She enlists the help of a crow whom she turns into a man named “Diaval” (who’s name is obviously supposed to make us think of “devil” ) by saving his life, and thus indebting him to her.

Maleficent Diaval

Diaval goes to Maleficent to tell her that the king and queen have a child and she shows up and does her famous schpiel about her growing in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her, and then that she’ll prick her finger, bla bla bla… however, at this point, she changes it up a bit from the Disney version and states that there is a way for the curse to be broken, and that is if she receives true loves kiss she ALSO stipulates that no one can stop this from happening or revoke it. She does this after Stefan begs her, humiliating himself in front of his entire kingdom.

Maleficent 1

Stefan sends Aurora away, and the three fairies “grow up” / become human sized to care for her. However, they’re so ridiculously obtuse that they have no idea how to care for a child. Because apparently fairy babies and human babies are entirely different.

Because of this, Maleficent comes along and oversees the situation, keeping Aurora alive so that her curse may be enacted because these fairies don’t even seem to know how to feed a baby.

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She continues this for the entirety of the sixteen years, all the while with Diaval giving her “the eye” when she does something particularly wicked or when she goes too far. Often, her response to this is to merely turn him back into a bird so that she can’t hear his protests. But, he plays a large role in this as well. He often plays with Aurora in bird form. The two becoming wonderful friends. She calls him her, “pretty bird.”

MALEFICENT

Over the course of the sixteen years, there are a few moments in which Aurora stumbles onto Maleficent accidentally, and the two merely part ways. But, (and I believe in part this is due to the blessing of the fairies), Maleficent slowly begins to “fall in love” with the baby. (no, not like that… but remember that one of the fairies blessings was that Aurora would be “beloved” by all that knew her). As time passes, we see that she’s developed a soft spot for her, to a point where she even takes her into the fairy realm and awakens her after hiding. She and Diaval watch her to see what she’ll do. This is where the commercial lines of “come out, don’t be afraid,” “I’m NOT afraid…” “Then come out,” “Then you’ll be afraid.” happen.

When they come out however, Aurora is unafraid and believes Maleficent to be her fairy godmother because she’s always seen Maleficent lurking about. Maleficent doesn’t dispute this, and introduces her to Diaval, (who kisses her hand) and the other fairies.

Aurora and fairy

So this goes on for a few nights/ weeks/ months/ they don’t really tell us. Maleficent takes Aurora in the middle of the night to be with the fairy folk and they begin to have some fun together.

During this time, we are made aware that Stefan has gone mad. He’s talking to the pair of wings that he cut off, in a room alone and foregoes going to his wife’s deathbed to talk to the wings (which are locked up as a prize).

Maleficent Stefan

Maleficent regrets her curse, and even attempts (after putting Aurora to sleep) to revoke it. But is haunted by her own words that “no one can stop the curse from happening.” This breaks her heart. However, after many nights with Maleficent, Aurora decides that she’s going to stay with her in the fairy realm. Seeing this as a possible way out of the curse, Maleficent agrees and tells her to stay now.

Thrilled, Aurora runs home to tell her aunts that she’s leaving forever, and on the way (of course) she meets Philip. They have a brief encounter and he heads off to the palace.

Maleficent Aurora and philip

During this time, Aurora is told who she truly is and Aurora runs home to her father, who is utterly mad and bent on destroying Maleficent. He orders Aurora locked away in her room so that she won’t fulfill the curse.

However, in her room, there is a secret chamber that leads her out and into the rest of the palace. Spellbound, Aurora finds a spinning wheel and pricks her finger, causing the curse to become complete.

MEANWHILE, Maleficent, having regretted her actions, finds Philip, puts him into a deep sleep and turns Diaval into a horse to ride to the castle with Philip asleep behind her (on his own horse). They get there, sneak in, and get Philip to the top of the tower where Aurora has been placed to lay for eternity.

Maleficent and Diaval sneak in after Maleficent awakens Philip to watch what will happen and the three fairies (who have shown up) urge Philip to kiss Aurora. He says that he wants to, and then does so, but nothing happens… So in a fit of rage, they kick him out. Then, they leave to go and attempt to find something else to break the curse.

maleficent-elle-fanning-1

Maleficent and Diaval emerge from their hiding spot, both utterly heartbroken and Maleficent apologizes to Aurora and places a protection curse upon her so that no harm will come to her while she sleeps. Then, in tears, she kisses her on the forehead… and Aurora wakes up, stating, “Hello, Godmother,” which crushes the evil inside Maleficent. The two embrace and they attempt to leave the palace.

At this point, Stefan has gathered an army and they meet them on the way down where Stefan has used iron shields (Iron hurts fairies) to surround Maleficent. Maleficent orders Aurora to run, and she does, only to come to the room with Maleficent’s wings.

Diaval is trapped under a net and in the midst of battle, Maleficent turns him into a dragon.

Maleficent dragon

The battle rages on, and eventually, Aurora frees Maleficent’s wings and they fly to her and re-attach themselves onto her back. She takes flight, and Stefan grabs Maleficent with a whip, refusing to let go, she drags him to a high tower where she nearly kills him, but her new found “good hood” takes her down a different path. She tells him that this is “over’ and lets him go. Of course, he attempts to kill her when her back is turned and in a very “Beauty and the Beast” like moment, Stefan accidentally leaps to his death.

The last sequence involves Aurora being crowned in the fairy realm as both the queen of the human world and the queen of the fairy realm too, (oh yeah, and Philip shows up) also a very beautiful sequence of Maleficent being able to fly up into the sky again due to having her wings back.

 

* * *

PHEW… (YES, there are STILL spoilers after this point… do not read anymore if you don’t want them)

Okay, so… great movie. I honestly loved it.

Here were the things that I DID NOT love about it.

I had a problem with the fact that her name was Maleficent. The point of the movie being about this character was entirely lost on me. As I said at the beginning, I think that re-writing these movies creates a serious issue for Disney because of the fact that they change everything.

How do you make a movie about one of Disney’s most infamously diabolical villains and call it “Maleficent” … (again, name meaning… to do harm? Sinful? Evil…) ? when the movie is about her good-hood? But then again, how do you make a movie about Maleficent and change her name? You can’t… which creates a problem.

The next thing that I didn’t like about it was this-
If the answer to Maleficent getting her wings back was merely that she had to be in the vicinity of them… then why all of the malice? Why not just go and attempt to get her wings back? Are we supposed to believe that fairies didn’t KNOW that getting their wings back was that easy?

I did not like the fact that (and I don’t like this fact) that the whole “true love’s kiss” thing continues to be about “any kind of love…” – that seems to be Disney’s new take on anything and everything simply to make it so that women don’t “need no man” or so that young people can be kissed by their mom’s etc so that spells can be broken.

This to me is a mistake and an epic eye roll sort of moment, because it’s pretty much understood within the curse that “true love’s kiss” means that the person who is IN LOVE with you has to kiss you. Not your mom, or your grandmother, or your fairy godmother, or your brother… If THAT were the case, then heck, anyone in the family could line up for a smooch if they loved you. That’s why it’s silly.

Personally, I was hoping and waiting for it to be Diaval. I think this would have given us a new, very interesting twist for the story. That the person who really loved her was the person who grew up with her and played with her all the time as a bird. Now, this might not have been “true love” as in “married/ sex/ forever” love, but, it still would have made things more interesting and shocking to me.

The idea that DERRRP it’s so obvious, SHE has to kiss her was just odd to me.

NOW, to the people who will argue with me about that, I GET IT… this was a Maleficent redemption movie. Meaning that there is really no other way that this could go other than that Maleficent HAD to kiss her. But, by this point (to me at least,) Maleficent was already redeemed. She had attempted to take her curse back and she was about to fight for and put herself in harm’s way for Aurora. She’d protected her multiple times, etc.

I still believe that it would have been better if Diaval had done it. That pretty much is how it went in my mind. XD

Now, I have to complain about this a little…

This movie completely robbed all of the male characters of any rights, purpose or sanity. There was honestly not a single male character in this movie who wasn’t portrayed as evil, crazy, worthless, pointless, or under female control.

The character that I felt the worst for was Philip (AND THAT HAIR!). This poor actor literally came onto the scene for nothing. He didn’t even get to fight in the end or anything. In fact, he was robbed of his entire character. He had about five and a half minutes of time on the screen two of them of which he was completely knocked out and floating for.

Someone will say, “Well, now you know what it’s like for WOMEN in hollywood”… but I disagree. Whenever I see movies I can’t help but note that while ONE woman character might be oppressed or have it difficult or something, there are still OTHER women characters in the movie who are strong/ sufficient/ not sex objects/ have an actual ROLE/ aren’t insane/ aren’t portrayed as pointless or evil, etc.

Diversity makes it all up.

The last thing that I’ll talk about is the fact that I really don’t know how I feel about this new trend in Disney remakes to show the “good side” of evil.

When you really think about it, what is this teaching our children?

I think what it’s teaching them is that evil is really just misunderstood. There are valid reasons/ EXCUSES for someone’s actions. (even if they DID kill a lot of people, enslave a man, and curse a newborn…) If this continues to be the Disney direction… I don’t know how I feel about it.

Other minor things that were mentioned were things like –
Yes, I understand that the three fairies had to be at the party, but their worlds are “fighting” in real life. It doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Also… Maleficent is not the dragon? WTF?

Overall? See it. You’ll love it. It’s great.

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