Due to a scheduling error of me typing in one number lower for the date than I should have, my normal Monday post went out yesterday. That’s okay, because on Saturday, I saw the movie Maleficent and of course, I’d like to talk about it. Minor spoilers here and there so if you’re planning on seeing it, look out for the underlined spots.
For our foreign friends who may not know what that movie was about, it’s Disney’s twist on Sleeping Beauty where they make Maleficent the protagonist. It is a live-action film, and for the short version of this post, I had high expectations which it did not meet but it was still a fantastic film which I liked very much so. In considering a rating for the film, I decided that giving it stars, either a total of five or ten, seemed too arbitrary for me so instead I will instead answer three questions. Then I will explain what I did and did not like and what I had wanted to be different.
Would I go to the theatre to see this film? In this case, I did, so that’s a yes – and understand, for me, going to the theatre to see a film is a big deal. In my youth, when my family had a decent amount of money and could afford to go to the theatre a few times a month if we so chose, we still didn’t because my parents had the philosophy that you only went to the theatre if the experience of the movie would be truly enhanced by going to the theatre. Later, circumstances changed and we did not have much money so going to the theatre involved receiving promotional passes from Harkins and then hoarding them until a truly marvelous film (or the next Pirates of the Caribbean since a certain family member adored those films) came out. Even now as a working adult who can again afford to go a few times a month, going to the theatre is something special to me.
I’d like to add on to that question, did I regret going to see that movie in the theatre? No, I did not. It was a great movie and I’m glad I saw it in theatre.
Would I watch the movie again? Yes, I would. I enjoyed it enough that I would enjoy watching it again.
Would I buy the movie on video? Just because I liked a movie to watch it again doesn’t mean I’d go out of my way to do so, after all. But yes, I think I would buy this movie on DVD – just, after it’d been out a little and wasn’t at its original release price.
My favorite part about the movie was Maleficent’s personality. I feel that they were spot on with what she would be like, as a whole person rather than just some malevolent force, the type that wicked fairies typically are in fairytales. And because this is an expansion on a fairytale, which is innately a shallow, simple story*, I would expect no less.
I also really liked the expansion on the raven, although I did not like the fact that I never caught his name. Ga something? It would have been nice if they could have said it slowly and clearly at least once. Anyway the snark between him and Maleficent was magnificent. Comic relief banter can be a dangerous thing, since it’s so easy for it to take away from the movie rather than add to it. But this was done perfectly.
I liked that the fat, mud-slinging fey creatures were reminiscent of the pathetically incompetent minions Maleficent had in the original animated Disney film, at least in appearance.
I adored the scene where Maleficent showed up to Aurora’s christening – being Disney’s second coverage of Sleeping Beauty, it was quite satisfying to see them replicate the scene in this telling, as well.
I appreciate how Maleficent basically still got her revenge in taking something very precious from King Stefan, even if she ultimately wanted to revoke the curse – she took the joy of raising his own daughter, and took his sanity, which is not unequivalent to what he took from her.
Maleficent’s wardrobe was fantastic. I loved how they incorporated death into her outfit – I loved the snake-skin head wraps, and the jaw-bone collar. I also thought all of Raven’s transformations were gorgeous: the way they incorporated crow into each of the different animals, especially with feathers. I also really liked how it was HE who turned into a (really cool) dragon.
I liked that Maleficent was not pleased with nor happy about Stefan’s death in the end.
And I really, really loved how they referred to her as both a hero and a villain, because she was – even if I don’t necessarily like why she was also a hero.
*Fairytales are meant to be shallow, simple stories. People might complain that the original story was destroyed in this rendition. I say those people are silly and do not understand the nature of an expanded fairytale. A fairytale is a seed of a story; it’s nice to tell at bedtime because you can get through it quickly, it doesn’t make one think much but still spews a quick little moral, and the kids can get to bed, but if one wants to tell it as a story proper, it seems to me prudent to change elements to make the story and characters complex to make it interesting. The central essence must be maintained, but beyond that, a creative person should be given license to change the story however they like. Therefore if you’re guessing I didn’t like the ending because of how they changed it, that’s not it. I’ll explain shortly.
And what I liked less:
They started the movie off with the theme that man is ambitious and greedy. I hate that. I hate that so much. SOME men are ambitious and SOME are greedy and sure, SOME are both. You can point out that the narrator said that the king specifically was ambitious and greedy but it was also stated that the whole stupid human kingdom was jealous of the Moors (Mores?) because of their fey beauty and fey riches. The only truly correct way to write Man as a race v other fairytale races is that Man is as varied as they come. Anyway it seems rotten to me to say oh, man’s so greedy! and then have miss Aurora be pure and sweet and innocent and loving. Phillip didn’t seem like too much a jerk, either, though we didn’t see much of him, and Aurora’s mother didn’t seem that bad. Just King Henry or whoever the first king was, and Stefan.
For decrying ambition and greed, I find it interesting the first thing Maleficent does in her grief is to take over the Moors as landscape-changing evil queen. I mean, it could possibly be excused by saying she was tainted by the evils of men by how she was cheated, and it could be said that she found that to be the most effective way to protect her own kingdom (Is it really a kingdom if it’s ruled by a queen? Hm.) but that would have to be extrapolation on the viewer’s part; the movie did not actually address the issue.
And finally, the movie’s ending was a very Disney ending – which is to say, it was happy. Disney only does happy endings. That is not the kind of ending I really wanted, but it was still a good and even satisfying ending, even if I thought bittersweet would have been more befitting.
See, I figured that the ending must be that Maleficent was the one who broke the curse because she had fallen in love with Aurora because it was a Disney film…and while I like that Disney is moving away from the love at first sight true love utter bullcrap, and I also like that Disney is finally acknowledging how many different types of love there are (after all, love of mother to child, friend to friend, guardian to ward – these are all very beautiful and oft ignored types of love) I really…didn’t want that to happen. Honestly, I would have been more happy with Raven being the one to break the curse. I mean, it was definitely a work-worthy ending, and it suited Disney’s purposes, it’s just not the one I wanted. I was actually hoping that Maleficent would work with Phillip, bring in the dragon as a way to…make Aurora something for which he’d fight. That would still be a major sacrifice on Maleficent’s part, since at that time I was still assuming it would be she who turned into the dragon. And for Aurora to be with Phillip and not truly reconcile with Maleficent, for Maleficent to have more severe consequences for her actions…I…I wanted that. The world is a very harsh place and sometimes, no matter how hard you work for forgiveness, you don’t get it. And sometimes villains aren’t converted into heroes, even when they try really hard to repent. And sometimes – sometimes you make a huge mistake and you can’t make it right and you just have to move on. Not with Disney. Never with Disney. But in real life, yes. And I wanted that. I’m not saying the ending wasn’t good. I’m just saying…
It was the ending
Gotham the movie needed, but not the ending that Gotham I deserved wanted.
You can tell that I’m okay with the ending, even if I wanted a different one, because I’d still buy the movie after the price goes down. Which is how I will buy most movies for the most part, anyway – prudence with money and all.
So if you are in a place where Maleficent is playing, consider seeing it. It was really good. Even if you wait ’til it comes out on Netflix and DVD. It was good – it wasn’t truly a story about good guys and bad guys, it was a story about people. It was a story about how a heart can change, about priorities and ambitions, about love.