*Warning – this post contains spoilers!
A vindictive fairy (Angelina Jolie) curses the princess baby after being wronged by the King Stefan (Sharlto Copley), only to become attached to the young princess (Elle Fanning) and spend years trying to make up for her act of revenge.
Disney knew what they were doing when Angelina Jolie was cast in the iconic role of Maleficent. I can’t possibly see anyone else filling those wicked shoes. Elle Fanning was perfection as the innocent and naive Aurora. British actor Sam Riley portrays Diaval, Maleficent’s raven-turned-sidekick who becomes the voice of reason and essentially, her conscience. Sharlto Copley steps into the role of Kind Stefan almost effortlessly.
Off the heels of Disney’s blockbuster Frozen, Maleficent continues the new tradition of family as the meaning of true love. In Maleficent’s case, true love does not come from a sibling or a parent, but the one who has grown to love Princess Aurora as her own daughter, overcoming adversity and bringing the fairy and human worlds together after many hundred years of turmoil.
Director Robert Stromberg asked me an important question – “How did it make you feel?”
Immediately I told him I wanted to go home and hug my daughter tightly. he smiled when I said this, because he knew that the message he wanted to portray came across in his target audience.
Not only was the film visually stunning (see it in 3D!), it was emotional, especially for mothers. To see the transformation of Maleficent – going from a young innocent, not unlike Aurora herself, to a protective warrior, a woman scorned by love and betrayal, then a mother figure – is absolutely breathtaking. Jolie glides through these personas with ease. Her sharp Gaga-esque cheekbones and feral eyes enhance each of Maleficent’s mood visually for the audience. Little things like jewelry on her horns, pointed fingernails, and her famous pout painted blood-red completed the look flawlessly.
One of my favorite parts of Maleficent was the comic relief of the three fairies, who have sworn to care for Aurora hidden in a small forest cottage. Leslie Manville, Imelda Staunton, and Juno Temple have a ton of chemistry and reminded me so much of Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather of the original Sleeping Beauty, but with more sass. They bickered and bellowed at each other, oblivious to the needs of the infant Aurora. The CGI effects of the three actresses as fairies is good, although a bit cartoonish, but really this was the only gripe I had with Maleficent.
One of the big questions I continue to get is “can I take my children to see Maleficent”. Short answer – YES. While Maleficent has a big battle scene in the first 20 minutes, and then the famous dragon scene toward the end, the rest is filled with fantasy, stunning visual effects, and a strong message of love and acceptance. The battle scenes are more exciting than scary, and although I think they might be a little much on the big screen for my 4 year olds, I think they will enjoy it immensely when it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray this holiday season. Ages 6 and up will really enjoy Maleficent, especially if they have already scene films like Alice in Wonderland or Oz the Great and Powerful (which in my opinion was scarier than Maleficent by a long shot).
Maleficent is in theaters TODAY and rated PG! Go see it and be sure to comment here with your thoughts!