It was quite interesting leading up to this movie. First I was excited for it since it's one of Disney's most beloved villains but then I was disappointed since the reviews on it were the general consensus that Angelina Jolie played an amazing Maleficent but the rest of the movie didn't really live up to par. Seeing those reviews I had initially decided that I was going to pass or hold off on watching Maleficent in the theaters. However, my interests peaked back up again as even though the movie still stays at a 50%-60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is making well over two times in box office as compared to X-Men: Days of Future Past which holds a 92% rating. On top of the box office, having friends that I know who have actually went to see the movie all have come back with great reviews. Thanks to another invite by the VES, I got to go see a screening of Maleficient at Pixar last Saturday!
Some have said to go into movies with zero expectations so that you wouldn't be disappointed and can only be impressed. However, I think that's silly since if you don't have any expectations then why go see the movie at all?At that point you are just throwing money at a screen hoping for something that might entertain you for a fleeting hour and a half without any real interest. Having read and watched various reviews, I went in already knowing what to expect. That Jolie is going to be spectacular and that the story isn't truly "canon" to the original Disney version that everyone grew up loving. When I came out of the movie I had found that I enjoyed myself quite a lot.
The story follows as Maleficent is the guardian of a place called the Moor where all the fairyfolk live. She falls in love with Stefen who then betrays her due to greed and desire to be king. Maleficent seeks revenge and curses Sefen's daughter, Aurora. Herein lies the biggest issue that I have with the story. Maleficent is super passive aggressive when she shows up once again in front of Stefen. Stefen betrayed her and cut off her most prized wings. Even without her wings, Maleficent is still a force to be reckoned with as she still has all her magic. Instead of going on a raging warpath to seek revenge upon Stefen which is what she wanted, Maleficent instead decides to sit back and mope for at least almost a year until a baby is born.
Since I already knew that the story was going to be different, it's not just the same story told through a different perspective like Wicked, I knew that the ending was going to be different and I didn't mind the change. However I can see why some people were all up in an uproar over it initially. Part of the reason is that it is so unexpected because the movie was making little references here and there back to the Disney classic, such as only having three fairies come to bless Aurora (the original story had twelve fairies with the thirteenth being left out), the whole line about not being able to fly or use magic, and making a mess out of trying to take care of a human child. I did feel that the "true love's kiss" coming from Maleficent herself instead of Prince Philip was slightly corny and jumping on the bandwagon. It has been done twice already in the TV show Once Upon A Time, also owned by Disney, and Frozen has already established the whole "you don't need a man to save you". When the initial kiss failed and Maleficent came to kiss Aurora on the forehead I already knew what was going to happen and started to roll my eyes. While the not needing a man to whisk you away aspect isn't necessary, I wished the movie could have done something different than the same tropes that have been shown repeatedly.
One part that I did not really like in the movie was during the final battle, after getting her wings back, Maleficent changed into a strange skin tight leather looking outfit. It is plausible that she could be wearing that under her cloak/robes but that was never set up at all. One minute she is wearing her robed look, then shes hit, and then the next shot is of her without her robe on. Another factor that I disliked about it is that it ruins and changes Maleficent's silhouette as it's part of her signature look to make her look mysterious and imposing. The other factor that I disliked the skintight leather outfit was that it was completely out of left field compared to everything else that Maleficent had worn throughout the movie. If you look at Maleficent's wardrobe, all her clothes were seemingly made naturally, either from animal skin and feathers or from tree bark or other plants.
Angelina Jolie, as said, was magnificent. She had the look, stature, and personality of what we expected Maleficent to be. I particularly loved the eyes as they were truly captivating and always had a perfect specular highlight brightening them up. Unfortunately the other characters tend to fall short. No fault to the actors, I felt that the shortcomings tended to come more from the script. While Maleficent had rich and provocative lines to deliver, other characters seem to exist to move the story along. The characters seem to be created specifically to fill a certain role and we don't see any development, thought, or other sides to a character for them to be interesting and want to be connected with. The king is evil, the three fairies are incompetent, and Aurora is cute and pleasing as blessed to be.
I loved the CG elements in the movie, particularly all the creatures. My favorite being the water sprite/nymph things that are greenish blue with the red streamers trailing behind them as they dance across the water. They remind me kind of like a leafy sea dragon. I wish the movie would have been more specific with what the creatures are as they were only addressed in passing if at all. Mostly they were just referred to under an umbrella term of fairies. Although the three red, green, and blue flower fairies that came to bless Aurora were called pixies at one point but then never mentioned by that term again. Maleficent is also a fairy but clearly different from the others.