Reviews

Maleficent (2014)

maleficent-dvd

(If this is your first time on this blog, I ask you to read my “About” page first! You can find a link to it at the top left-hand corner of this blog. Thanks!)

When I reviewed Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, I discussed how Disney was making a plethora of live-action adaptations of their animated classics and I prayed that this one in particular would be good.

So, IS Maleficent any good? Let’s find out!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

First off, we see the familiar Disney logo looking…unfamiliar.

I can't even begin to describe how weird this looks. Is there such a thing as "uncanny valley" for castles?
I can’t even begin to describe how weird this looks. Is there such a thing as “uncanny valley” for castles?

A narrator begins telling us that this story is told anew. Basically, if you complain that this movie has nothing whatsoever to do with the story of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, then you have no right to complain as you’ve been warned that this is the totally different, yet TRUE rendition of what really happened.

Anyway, the premise is that there are two neighboring kingdoms. One is led by evil mankind who cheat, fight, steal, and just do evil things. The other is a place called the Moors which is bright, happy, colorful, and wherein fantastical creatures of all kinds live.

Fantastical, yet extremely ugly animated creatures!
Fantastical, yet extremely ugly animated creatures!

One such creature is a young girl fairy named Maleficent, who’s the kindest, nicest creature you could ever possibly meet.

"HOW STUPIDLY THEY'VE PORTRAYED ME!"
“HOW STUPIDLY THEY’VE PORTRAYED ME!”

One day, a young boy from the man kingdom

"Is that anything like a man village?"
“Is that anything like a man village?”

named Stefan comes to the Moors to steal something, but after Maleficent tells him to give it back, he does so.

"You're easily swayed, you know?" "Yeah,  that's why I got signed for this film!"
“You’re easily swayed, you know!”
“Yeah, that’s why I got signed for this film!”

He and Maleficent begin talking and through their conversation we learn that they’re both orphans. Whereas Maleficent has wings and flies around happily, Stefan is a poor boy who lives in a barn. Nevertheless, they seem to mesh and the two of them become friends, continue meeting over the years, and end up becoming lovers culminating in a “true love’s kiss” when she turned 16.

But, years pass and Stefan has stopped visiting Maleficent due to falling into the usual temptations and greed of men. Meanwhile, Maleficent, now played by Angelina Jolie has become the protector of the Moors. She protects the Moors from the invading soldiers of the man kingdom by the power of her mighty wings.

"This isn't falling with style. This is flying."
“This isn’t falling with style. This is flying.”

The ailing king of the man kingdom makes a proclamation that anyone who kills Maleficent will become the king after his demise. This news intrigues many including Stefan, now played by Sharlto Copley.

He has probably THE weirdest Scottish accent you've ever heard in a film!
He has probably THE weirdest Scottish accent you’ve ever heard in a film!

Stefan conjures up a plan. He ventures into the Moors where he meets Maleficent and puts on an act of apologizing for not visiting her for years and warns her about the King’s plan. Maleficent forgives him and the two spend a nice quiet evening together. Stefan then offers Maleficent a drink, which happens to be drugged, and she passes out. While she’s unconscious, he tries to stab her, but doesn’t have the courage to do it. Instead, he cuts off her wings and heads back to the kingdom with them to use as “proof” that he’s killed Maleficent. The ailing king believes Stefan and keeps his word making Stefan the next monarch.

When Maleficent regains her consciousness, she realizes what has happened and cries in pain. This act from Stefan fills her with hurt, pain, and above all, rage and hatred towards man…well, mostly against Stefan. Her personality becomes dark as does the atmosphere of the Moors so much so that the creatures of the Moors become afraid of her.

Witness the "birth" of the fairy Maleficent formerly known as the fairy Maleficent!
Witness the “birth” of the fairy Maleficent formerly known as the fairy Maleficent!

She also manages to save a raven’s life so that it can be her wings to gather information from the nearby kingdom. She makes total use of the raven, Diaval, by transforming him into whatever she needs. Most of the time, Diaval is in the form of a man, played by Sam Riley.

I dunno...if I had the ability, I'd make my right-hand man a dragon!
I dunno…if I had the ability, I’d make my right-hand man a dragon!

As time passes, King Stefan and his wife (the ailing king’s daughter), get a baby girl. When Maleficent discovers this fact, she crashes the party and the scene plays almost exactly like the scene in Sleeping Beauty.

Basically, Maleficent plants a curse on the girl, Aurora, which states that the girl will prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday and fall into a deep slumber. The only thing to break the spell would be a true love’s kiss (which Maleficent has come to believe doesn’t exist).

After Maleficent departs, King Stefan orders that all spinning wheels to be destroyed and burned and sends the girl to be brought up by the three fairies, who are named Knotgrass, Thistlewit, and Flittle, in this version, for some unknown reason.

SIgh...the uncanny valley is everywhere!
SIgh…the uncanny valley is everywhere!

The fairies, played by Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville, take baby Aurora to a small cottage in the woods where they hope Maleficent won’t find them. But, Maleficent actually does find their hideout almost as soon as they move in.

As the days pass, Maleficent spends her time watching the cottage and baby Aurora from a distance. And in an ironic twist, she starts to grow fond of baby Aurora. It starts from when Maleficent would surreptitiously feed the baby milk when the three fairies weren’t noticing the baby’s cries. It manifests itself to even having Maleficent save the young toddler Aurora from falling off a cliff when the three fairies are too preoccupied otherwise to notice.

One day, when Aurora’s in her teens,  and played by Elle Fanning, Maleficent surreptitiously brings her into her lair in the Moors. Aurora doesn’t seem frightened of Maleficent and recognizes her as the shadowy figure who’s been in her life every now and then and likens her to a “fairy godmother”.

"You're as tall, dark, and brooding as I thought you'd be!"
“You’re as tall, dark, and brooding as I thought you’d be!”

As they spend time together, Aurora melts Maleficent’s heart and Maleficent even tries to undo the spell, but it’s to no avail as when she cast the spell, she intended it to last forever.

Instead, she tries to protect Aurora by wanting her to stay with her in the Moors. Aurora loves the idea and hurries back to tell her aunties of her relocation plans, but first comes across a young prince named Phillip in the forest. Prince Phillip, played by Brenton Thwaites, and Aurora have a brief chat and are shown to have a liking for each other, but he soon goes on his way.

"I'm sure we'll meet again once upon a dream." "What the heck do you mean by that?" "Never mind!"
“I’m sure we’ll meet again once upon a dream.”
“What the heck do you mean by that?”
“Never mind!”

Aurora then heads to back to her aunties who get upset at her relocation plans and accidentally spill the beans about how she’s the princess and that Maleficent was the one who laid the curse. Aurora is shocked by all of this and heads to the castle to meet her father. King Stefan is somewhat happy to see her, but orders her to be locked in her room as there’s still one day left before for the curse to be carried out.

Once Maleficent finds out that Aurora realizes that she’s the one who put the curse on her, she abducts Prince Phillip by making him unconscious and rushes over to the castle with him and Diaval. Sadly, she arrives too late as Aurora has found her way into the dungeon of the castle where she pricked her finger on a spinning wheel that manifested itself. The castle people soon find her and put her in a bedroom to sleep peacefully.

Nevertheless, Maleficent and Diaval sneak into the castle and she revives Prince Phillip by the door of the sleeping Aurora. He has no recollection how he got there, but is persuaded by the three fairies (who’ve also made their way there) to kiss Aurora in hopes that his kiss will break the spell. Shockingly (or maybe not shockingly), it doesn’t work and the fairies kick him out.

"THIS is no way to treat a PRINCE!"
“THIS is no way to treat a PRINCE!”

After the fairies leave the room and Maleficent enters surreptitiously. She’s extremely saddened and apologetic for what has happened and kisses Aurora’s forehead. And in the newer Disney way of promoting parental/familial love, Aurora awakens by “true love’s kiss”.

Imagine if Beauty broke the Beast's curse by having her father befriend the Beast?
Imagine if Beauty broke the Beast’s curse by having her father befriend the Beast?

Both she and Maleficent are incredibly happy and patch up their relationship. They then try to escape, but King Stefan’s guards catch wind of them and try to capture Maleficent. They almost succeed, but Maleficent turns Diaval into a dragon

FINALLY!
FINALLY!

and regains her strength when Aurora finds Maleficent’s torn wings in the castle and reunites her with them. This results in her victory and King Stefan’s death.

The movie ends with peace between the two kingdoms and Aurora living happily in the Moors with Maleficent as her “step-mom” in the TRUE story of what really happened.

And that was Maleficent. Three words: PIECE OF TRASH!

"Is THAT anything like a man village?"
“Is THAT anything like a man village?”

I don’t even know how to begin talking about this movie. Every aspect of the movie is sooo….annoyingly splattered with plotholes, inconsistencies, stupid decisions, understating, etc. I really have NO idea why this movie is so popular! And since this made over $700 billion worldwide, Disney is more persuaded than ever to continue on making these live-action remakes of their animated features! What are the chances that this one will be any good?

There is one good thing to mention about this movie though: Angelina Jolie! Her performance as the character is IMPECCABLE! You SEE Maleficent in her performance! Granted, you hate how the character is written in this adaptation, but Angelina Jolie portrays the character flawlessly. I’d probably rank her performance near the ranks of Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers and James Mason as Captain Nemo.

"I'm not sure if we should go that far...or maybe we should."
“I’m not sure if we should go that far…or maybe we should.”

But, that’s pretty much the only good thing you can say about this movie. Well, maybe the visuals can look good at times, if you disregard the ugly animation! If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I congratulate you!

(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)

maleficentrating

So, the final score for this film is 18/35 = 51.43% (F) !

The next review will be posted on December 8th.

53 thoughts on “Maleficent (2014)

  1. I normally don’t judge a movie unless I have seen it…I made an exception for this one.

    Yeah, that is right, I am totally judgemental concerning that piece of shit!!!! I guess I’ll have to watch it soon for an informed post about it…but I really don’t want to.

    The only good decision they made was renaming the fairies. This way I can at least pretend that they are not my beloved characters. Just thinking of the scene with Aurora falling off the cliff makes my blood boil.

    There is one good thing about the movie…and, imho, the main reason so many people give it a pass. And that is not the visuals or Angelina Jolie’s performance, it’s the soundtrack.

    Thus said…I admit, I am kind of excited about Cinderella. Yeah, surprised too, but the trailer looks so good. Beforehand I took one glance at the trailers and knew that whoever was making the live-action remake had no idea why the original worked. But the Cinderella one…it hits the core of the story dead on. Kind and brave. And not brave because of some stupid contrived action scenes, but because of the ability to stay strong, no matter what.

    1. I can’t wait for you to see ‘Maleficent’ so I can see how much more angry you get about it 😛 !

      And honestly, yes, I feel ‘Cinderella’ won’t be as bad as ‘Maleficent’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but I don’t think it’ll get higher than a C on my rating system. Needless to say, I still am kinda excited for it. I too love how she maintains her kindness and bravery and they didn’t make it her into some bad-ass fighting warrior.

      1. I’m so glad you didn’t like this junk. I mean they change the whole story and every last character. And change them dramatically too. It really ticked me off.
        I dont understand why people see these movies? They neutered one of the best villains in Disney canon, ruined Philip, Stefan actor was so bad and the story made no sense. There is no way the faeries would have been so oblivious to Maleficent being that much a part of Aurora’s life and the ending that was so chilling and tense in the original was laughable.

        Urgh….it gets me all riled up!

      2. I think Cinderella is safer because it has been told so many times in film but if they turn the mice into some kind of CGI chipmunk monstrosity I think I will lose it!

      3. Oh I know they will be cgi. I just hope they arent obnoxious like in the chipmunk movies making them all modern and snarky. You know?

      4. I’d prefer puppets like in Witches for the mice but I’m ok with cgi just as long as they don’t change the mice like they did in Maleficent with the faeries. Just stick with the original mice!

      5. Well, I did what I had to do….

        Even ignoring what the movie did to the characters, it is simply an awful movie! Half of it consists of narration, spoon-feeding the audience stuff they should SHOW not TELL! The story is incoherent, the characters make no sense and I have to disagree with you concerning Angelina Jolie. She delivers her usual serviceable performance. The only reason she stands out are some well done camera angles and the fact that all the others characters are as bland as they can get. I don’t even blame the actors, they have nothing to work with.

      6. Try Mr. and Mrs. Smith…it’s really fun.

        And it’s not that shocking…I am always stunned that AJ is considered one of the Hollywood big names considering that I can’t remember her ever being in a truly good movie. Some not too awful popcorn flicks, but nothing more. And that is really not a diss on her, she always delivers, but she certainly wouldn’t be a name I would even consider if someone would ask me who I consider the best current actresses. (Though her directing debut got raving critics, so perhaps she should stick to it…Hollywood certainly needs more female directors.)

  2. I am with you 100%! So many plot holes and other issues. Angelina Jolie was good and that’s about it. I was disappointed because I liked the idea of this movie and felt it had so much potential, but alas!

  3. I have avoided this film for good reason, since I hear dbaout the countless differences between this ad the 1959 version. From what I have read and seen from many of these reviews, it suffers from the same issue as Brave; making everyone seem unlikable (King Stefan) and incompetent (Phillip, fairies) to make Maleficent look good. Still won’t see this for a while.

  4. Hey there, I’ve been reading though a lot of your reviews, and I must say you’ve hit the nail on the head with this movie. To me as a little kid, Sleeping Beauty was THE fairy tale, it was the only one that clicked with me. I was never big on Cinderella, and Snow White’s sometimes dark/sometimes overly sweet tone left me uneasy. As you can imagine, it hurts to see an old favorite be rewritten and dumbed down like this, squandering it’s huge potential

    To think, the writer for Beauty and the Beast wrote this!? It’s like a bad fanfiction! Worse still, the film wants us to take it as the “true story”, well I’m more inclined to believe this is an apparition from the real Maleficent’s delusional mind.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I love hearing from new people who read my blog!

      And I totally agree that this is a bad fanfiction! That’s EXACTLY what this seems like! And yes, it’s such a shame that the writer for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ wrote this.

      It always makes me curious how people who make or work on bad movies NOT see their movies as being bad?

  5. Lol, I enjoyed reading this and completely agree “Maleficent” was horrible. I don’t think that I personally would have given it an F (maybe a C-, D+), but it’s definitely a film I have no desire to see again, despite Angelina Jolie’s amazing performance. I’m beyond excited for “Cinderella.” I keep watching the trailer because I love how it just gets everything right about the fairy tale and animated film. I really hope the film holds up.

    1. Glad you enjoyed reading this!

      Well, the film got an F based on the individual sections that I’ve graded it on. That’s what I like, I don’t ever know what grade I’m giving a film until after I fill in the chart. Sometimes it surprises me (up to now, I STILL can’t believe I gave ‘Pollyanna’ an F!).

      Yeah, ‘Cinderella’ looks much better than this or ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but I don’t think it’ll be amazing!

  6. I completely forgot about this film. All I remember is that I was quite confused by it. It took a bit of thinking to get a good understanding of what I had watched. I remember sort of liking it…

    …I need to read my review again.

  7. Reblogged this on Reviewing All 54 Disney Animated Films and commented:
    My friend Mark likes Maleficent just about as much as I did. An entertaining review. If anyone has a positive review of the movie on their blog I would be happy to reblog that. I’m sure with most my readership being fans of the original most of us don’t care for it at all.

  8. Wow, low score! I haven’t seen this yet (and I don’t know if I will), but it seems like it’s almost not even worth seeing based on your review. Sorry to hear it was so bad!

  9. Hi,

    After hearing pretty much the same synopsis from my friend I steered clear of Maleficent, and judging by your review I dodged a bullet! I loved the captions by the way “You’re easily swayed, you know!” “Yes, that’s why I got signed for this film!”

    There are a couple of ideas I like though – Maleficent’s spell demanding a true love’s kiss to break it, when she doesn’t believe in it herself. And the visuals look cool. But I do hate it when Disney cram in stuff that was never there to begin with – see the atrocious Lion King 1 1/2 for more evidence of this. And the whole “misunderstood bad guy” thing would only have been interesting first time around in my opinion.

    Great job on the review, keep it up! 🙂

  10. While these live-action adaptations of Disney’s animated canon seldom work out, I do think their 90s live action Jungle Book film was pretty good!

    It was very different from the book and the cartoon, but it earnest great acting, gorgeous visuals and music, impressive animal performances and had a real sense of fun behind it. These days, hardly anyone has heard about it.

      1. I know that the DVD is pretty hard to track down, but if you acquired a copy or viewed it online, would you consider it at some point next year? (in tandem with Disney’s NEXT live-action Jungle Book!! 😛 )

    1. Yeah, I wasn’t fond of this at all, but I know some people are.

      I’m just not a fan of these live-action remakes of the animated movies in general. Granted, I haven’t seen the new ‘Cinderella’ yet.

      But now we have the upcoming Alice sequel, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Cruella, Dumbo, and Winnie the Pooh coming out!

      1. You said it! I just don’t trust Burton anymore! Least of all with Dumbo. The only Jungle Book I’m looking forward to is Andy Serkis’ iteration, which is based more on the books than the animated classic.

        Oh, and a ‘Cruella’ movie?! Are they trying to make her a misunderstood environmentalist who wanted to save the puppies from cruel owners!?!?!?! 😛

      2. Yeah, I’m awaiting Andy Serkis’ Jungle Book more as well, but the upcoming Disney’s Jungle Book is still the only of these live-action films that I’m tolerating.

        And now they’ve announced an upcoming Pinocchio?!

      3. Ugh!! You’d swear the studio bigwigs over at Disney hated their own animated legacy and wanted to stick it to everyone involved in its creation!! I wonder, what will make people angrier next; a remake of Snow White or The Lion King?

      4. A few years ago, Disney actually did plan on making a Snow White remake of sorts called “Snow and the Seven” in which Snow White would go to China (or Japan, can’t remember) for her father’s funeral and the seven would be seven samurai or ninjas who would teach her martial arts. It was supposed to be directed by Lee Unkrich or one of the other Pixar directors. I haven’t heard about the film in years, so I’m assuming it was scrapped. But with all the remakes coming back, I wouldn’t be surprised if this film were to come back out again.

      5. That is so freaking stupid that it insults the very concept of stupidity!! No one in the right mind with any affection for the original would touch that!

  11. I thought you should know to start off: I didn’t actually like this movie. I do think it’s more imaginative than the original, though. It also improves on the original in many other ways. It has more emphasis on who the lead characters are supposed to be: Stefan and Maleficent at first and their relationship, and then Maleficent’s relationship with Aurora.

    These relationships are simplistic and develop very quickly, but considering it is a fairy tale I think I may excuse this. I don’t like how thin Maleficent’s backstory actually is, though, in terms of her having no parents to speak of and a high position among the fairies without much explanation of why. For a film devoted to giving backstory,, I think this area needed work.

    The first act I enjoyed greatly, though. It provides a genuinely good backstory and motivation to make the original story have more sense, but then we get to where Sleeping Beauty actually begins. And…. 2 big plotholes: Why are the fairies at Stefan’s coronation and why do they want to help him when he is evil and declared war against them? And when Maleficent appears alive and it’s clear Stefan has no right to the throne, why does no one attempt to oust him? 2 ways the original story didn’t actually work.

    And from there I just don’t approve of Maleficent’s character being changed to that extent. I know they are trying to make her fully dimensional, but they show Stefan as a character with dimensions then promptly abandon that to make him evil anyway, never going back to the kindness that made him spare Maleficent’s life in the first place.

    From there the movie becomes derivative of Frozen, ripping off its ending and trying to do things it and Enchanted did better. In the end, I think this just ends up an attempt at feminist revisionism in making any bad female character more likable at the expense of anything else. And it had potential, so much potential I think. I came close to liking it but in the end I can’t recommend it either to lovers or haters of the original.

    (The prince being a mindless living prop tossed out of the room when it’s clear he’s useless was funny, though. I did love that.)

  12. One blogger I follow (SimbaKing94) has rather astutely pointed out similarities between this film and Gregory Maguire’s book WICKED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST (and the Broadway musical based off it), in terms of making the original stories’ villains (Maleficent and Elphaba) the “misunderstood” protagonists, among other things. However, if you ask me, WICKED succeeded at this by leaps and bounds, where as this one fell very flat…

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