Sunday 1 June 2014

Maleficent Movie Review!!!

Sleeping Beauty may be the 'sleeper' hit of the summer this year! Read our review to find out why Disney's follow up to Frozen lives up to expectations!!!

I really have to start this review by expressing my gratitude and respect for Disney.  In a world in love with superheroes, technology, gritty realism, action, they have steadfast to their code to keep the beauty and innocence of fairytales alive.  I’m glad that my kids will be able to grow up with Disney movies in their lives, especially in the direction they are now taking their movies.

Maleficent is a great movie but to fully appreciate its beauty you really need to have the original 1959 cartoon still fresh in your mind.  I can’t stress it enough, I strongly urge you to watch Sleeping Beauty before watching Maleficent.  If you haven’t seen it, then you can stream it here:

In the original cartoon, the evil Maleficent cast a spell on Aurora so that a cursed spindle on a spinning wheel would prick her before turning 16.  The curse would put Aurora into a deep sleep forever unless woken by a true love's kiss.  The three good fairies would raise Aurora in the woods in an attempt to protect her until she turns 16.  But of course the curse is still realized, leaving it to Prince Phillip to save the day.

The movie starts with a nice intro to a young Maleficent in The Moors, the magical side of the land full of pixies, faeries and other magical creatures.  On the other side there is the human kingdom who are fearful of The Moors and what they contain.

The two kingdoms usually keep their distance, which is until a greedy king decides he wants to try and invade.  Needless to say, the puny humans don’t really stand a chance against the magical and mystical beasts of The Moors.  The humans devise a plan that they want to take down the most powerful faerie, Maleficent!

I always wondered why Maleficent was so evil.  In the cartoon it just seems random, she appears and curses Aurora for no real reason.  The backstory explains all that here.  Surprisingly I ended up rooting for Maleficent, much in the same way we rooted for Magneto in the prequel X-Men: First Class.

What follows is the classic Sleeping Beauty story, how Aurora is cursed and how the spell is broken, brought up to date by Disney.

The whole movie is a real beauty to behold.  The fantasy world is magical and I found myself being lost in the imagery.  The effects are great to say the least.

The story really becomes interesting from the moment Aurora is cursed at her Christening.  We see the three pixies take Aurora to the cabin in the woods; we start to see the story from the original 1959 cartoon unfolding in front of our eyes.  It’s a nice familiarity combined with new elements from Disney, which helps to make this film feel like it’s still new and original.  I loved it!  

Performances are generally great; Angelina Jolie is on top form and steals the show in her title role.  It was also cool that they had to use Jolie's real life daughter in the scene above to play Aurora as all the other kids they auditioned found Jolie too scary in her makeup and would start crying!  Special mention should also be made of Diaval, Maleficent's very cool shape shifting assistant played in human form by Sam Riley.

Elle Fanning does the needful as Aurora though I have heard some people grumbling she might not be quite worthy of the title Sleeping Beauty – both in terms of the actual duration of REM sleep Aurora has and also in terms of facial aesthetics.  I will let you decide on this one.  

The normally fantastic Sharlto Copley does a decent job as King Stefan – though I found his accent confusing and he didn’t quite nail the balance of screen acting and pseudo-theater acting needed in these kinds of Disney movies.

On the whole, this was an excellent movie.  I was smiling pretty much from start to finish.  I loved seeing the familiar 1959 cartoon unfolding in front of my eyes; some of the scenes look like they were recreated straight out of the cartoon.  But what made things great was discovering what Disney had done to make the story still seem fresh and new.  As I said earlier, the biggest rewards are for those familiar with the 1959 cartoon.

Last year we had Frozen and now with Maleficent, Disney really seems to be on a roll with their more modern take on fairytales.

A great summer movie suitable for the whole family, highly recommended and already added to my Blu-Ray pre-order list!  Can’t wait to watch it again!

Check it out!

Rating 4 out of 5


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