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October 18, 2019

Maleficent (2014) --- “Don’t Believe The Fairy-Tale… Evil Has Its Own Beginning.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     The beautiful and pure-hearted fairy, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) has lived an idyllic life in the peaceful forest kingdom but one day an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Tasked with being the mighty defender of the Moors,  Maleficent soon rises to be the forest kingdom’s fiercest protector but when she is betrayed by a youthful romance her pure heart quickly turns to stone. Now filled with bitterness and anger, Maleficent decides to seek revenge by placing a death curse upon the invading king's successor’s newborn infant, Aurora (Elle Fanning), who must suffer for the sins of her father. But as Aurora grows, Maleficent soon realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the kingdom - and perhaps to Maleficent's true happiness as well. Does true love really exist? Can it stop an unbreakable curse?

     Directed by Robert Stromberg (What Lives Inside) and written by Linda Woolverton (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), is a true fairy tale that is reminiscent of a Grimm Brothers story despite having been written by french author Charles Perrault. It’s a dark, raw, and enchanting film that has its own twisted sense of humor. Unlike the 1959 animated Disney film Sleeping Beauty, this film chooses to tell the story of the villain rather than the princess. As a result, we not only get to see the reason behind the curse and why Maleficent doesn’t believe in true love but we also get to see what happens when your Prince turns into a frog. Or better yet a paranoid and power-hungry villain. The story is very much a personal and inner journey about recovering from a physical and emotional betrayal inflicted by someone close, someone we trusted with the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. It’s a survival story with a profound message. 
     Of course, there are those who don’t believe that this is a true fairy tale. But this in part is due to our society believing that all people are either good or evil and that all one needs to do is marry the perfect Prince or Princess and they will live happily ever after, free from pain and sorrow in their own little la-la land. And while it doesn’t hurt or cost anything to dream for your happily ever after, real life is much different than a “fairy tale.” And that is the story this film tells. Life can be messy and hard and sometimes shitty but it can also be beautiful and surprising and wonderful all at the same time. So what are you? The hero? The villain? A little bit of both?
     The CGI may be a tad heavy but overall it is great. The art and color and effects that are used to bring Maleficent’s world to life, both the Moors kingdom and the human kingdom, is incredible. In a way, it is sort of like a cross between Hellboy 2 (2008) and Pan's Labyrinth (2006) but in its own unique way. There was a nice blend of live-action faces with CGI faces that ensured that the film didn’t become a complete animation.
     The cast performances were solid. Angelina Jolie (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) makes a well-known, one- dimensional Disney villain relatable and sympathetic with her expressive face and amazing performance. Sam Riley (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies) was great as Maleficent’s sidekick raven-turned-human Diaval. Elle Fanning (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) was cute, sweet and perfect for the role of Aurora. The rest of the characters - Brenton Thwaites (Titans), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), Juno Temple (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), Imelda Staunton (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), and Sharlto Copley (Powers)
     Unlike the silly Snow White film Mirror Mirror (2012) and the grim rendition of Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Maleficent (2014) is truly a delightful film that is the perfect blend of dark and beautiful. The story is filled with incredible twists and a beautiful message about survival, overcoming adversity, forgiveness, and what true love really means. This is a family film but the story is also sophisticated enough to delight adult audiences too. The cast performances were spot on, especially Angelina Jolie and Sharlto Copley, the latter who could not have played a better paranoid villain. All in all, I highly recommend this film and I cannot wait for the sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

Final Vote --- 8 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Beauty and the Beast (2018)
Brave (2012)
Cinderella (2015)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Dark Shadows (2012)
Frozen (2013)
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016)
Into the Woods (2014)
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Tangled (2010)

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