Movie Review: Maleficent

Maleficent focuses on the character of said name from Sleeping Beauty but with a twist: we’re looking at things from her point of view this runaround.

We’re  introduced to a young Maleficent, who becomes good friends with a human from the other side of the treeline named Stefan. However, as time passes by and both get older, Stefan’s ambition gets in the way of their mutual affection and Stefan stops seeing her.

It’s a story that says people we know and love can change on us and become something dissimilar of their former selves, of the people we cared about. We comprehend what feelings are to be expected from someone who suffers such a loss (doubt, depression) but at the same time fans could have felt these feelings so much more if we would have gotten to see these youngsters’ friendship expand past the ten minute mark, if it even reaches that. I know Sleeping Beauty needs to appear eventually but if the movie is going to be about Maleficent, why don’t we spend more time learning how she feels by placing ourselves in her childhood and feeling what she felt? I’m told they become friends and love might have even be in the conversation, but I’d rather see it then be told it, especially since I’m watching a movie instead of being read a storybook fairy tale. This is a film, correct?

Part of me thinks the hesitation and eventual choice of not giving us more here was because doing so might have bored younger audiences and since that was the targeted group for this film, that was the decision they went with. That and more run time means more money.

However, I can’t help but wonder what this film could have been if it would have taken the risk and gone ahead and added some aspects that would have compelled adolescent audiences to see this. I’m not a teenager, but young adult aspects would have made the visit for children’s parents more enjoyable if they could have taken some heart and a message coming out of it. I’m not saying this doesn’t have heart to it, but it’s the difference between a drawing of a tree and a painting of a tree. A tree is something we’ve all seen before. We know what it’s composed of and there’s only so much detail a drawing can deliver, like the boldness of its outline. However, a painting can illustrate color, dexterity, style, poise and attitude. There is so much more time and therefore product to look at and decipher where as a basic drawing with no shading can’t encompass us for long.

Not all children can grasp the advancement that I’m talking about. Financial risk is part of the deal here but you’re in a creative market aren’t you? Isn’t creativity all about taking risks in the first place? Doing something in a way that people haven’t seen before means they might not like it, they might discredit you and call you a phony and you might never get the enjoyment or recognition out of it that you’re looking for. However, if you take that leap and they do like it, life will be kinder to you because they know 1) you gave it your all and 2) they’ll know money wasn’t all that mattered to you. I’m not saying that is the hand director Robert Stromberg was dealt. I’m sure he didn’t have the ultimate choices in a lot of the meetings. Nonetheless, a wider story rather than a vertical one is beneficial to character connection and to fan entertainment so I wish they would have given it a go. Alas, they didn’t and we have what we have.

For all that, it’s not a bad movie or a deficient Disney dabble. Angelina Jolie still gives us a tale of loss with all the stages that transpire with it. She’s angry, she’s hurt and she’s got it all inside her but you can tell that time starts to crumble those walls of hers and make her wish she could take it all back, mainly the curse she put on a girl who was born having done nothing wrong.

The rest of the cast isn’t valuable nor necessary with the exception of Elle Fanning as our sleeping beauty. Sharlto Copley, gosh, I know the guy has talent but he’s just horrible this year. Open Grave and now there’s this role that is filled with so much singularity there’s really nothing Sharlto can do to make this dynamic at all. He can try to play his role from Elysium here but it would be misplaced in this fantasy dream world as well as unnecessarily heinous but I think that’s what Sharlto was told to do because he’s unleashing all the aggressive lunacy he can here but only so much can be accomplished with the meager lines he’s presented on the page. The three fairies are given some dialogue that’s supposed to be funny but is far too kiddish for me to get a kick out of.

The visuals, CGI and special effects are visually appealing and worthwhile. If a film isn’t getting that part right, it better be ready to feel my wrath.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Dawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of ExtinctionJack ReacherGodzilla, Secretariat)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Tears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Rise of the Planet of the ApesTransporter 2Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The TransporterSpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster Movie)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Planet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (A Haunted House 2Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Maleficent: 70.

Despite the negative reviews Maleficent has received, it’s made over $670 million at the box office, putting it at number five in revenue so far this year ahead of Godzilla and the heavily anticipated How to Train Your Dragon 2 sequel. With that said, Maleficent features some poor script writing with some of its side characters but excels with Jolie at the forefront and does give us stuff to think about although one of those things is how much more this story could have taught us with an extension of the film’s 97-minute running time.

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