There are always two sides to every story. Life is not really like a Disney movie where the good guys wear white and are clearly good and the bad guys wear black and are clearly bad. In real life, even the baddest of the bad guys, have complicated back stories and nothing is clear-cut.
In the new movie Maleficent, we take a look at one of Disney's most beloved and iconic villains and try to figure out why she became that way. We also learn that the story that we might have know, may not have been as accurate as we were told.
Angelina Jolie plays the titular role. She has make up on that gives her cheek bones the trademark look from the cartoon character from Sleeping Beauty. Despite the make up and outstanding costume, she manages to shine through and portray Maleficent in a way that makes you care about her, root for her, and understand why she does what she does.
You see, Maleficent is a fairy. She was one of the most powerful fairies in a land of enchanted and magical creatures known as the Moors. So powerful was she that she became the protector of the Moors so that when selfish humans decided that they wanted to conquer the magical lands, it fell to her to defend it. She does so with her powerful wings and extremely powerful magic.
However, Maleficent has befriended, and even fallen in love with, a human. When that human grows up, becomes selfish for power and riches, and not only breaks her heart, but betrays her, well, what else is there to do but put on black and curse a child?
All I have stated so far is pretty much known and shown in the trailers. The rest, you have to see for yourself. However, let me say that if you have seen Sleeping Beauty and think you know the tale, you do not.
For some reason critics have been very, very harsh on this movie. I, for the life of me, cannot understand why. Angelina Jolie is just outstanding in the title role. Honestly, I think this is one of the best performances she has had. She portrays menace, but also the hurt that drives her to be a menace. Only Jolie could be terrifying, but sympathetic at the same time.
The rest of the cast is also good. Elle Fanning plays Aurora, AKA Sleeping Beauty, and she is fine in the role. She really just has to smile and look pretty.
The one performance that helps with the movie, but might get lost, is Sharlto Copley as the king and Aurora's father. He plays a man slowly becoming unhinged as he obsesses over Maleficent and the curse. He does so very well and, in some ways, his descent into madness is one of the more terrifying things in the movie. It's a small role, but he commands the screen whenever he is on it.
The special effects are all great. Some are saying that the movie relies on them too much, but I disagree. I felt that the magical creatures were rendered beautifully. The Moors, being a land full of magic, should be hyper-real and not at all like the world of humanity. I think they achieve that nicely in this film.
The story moves nicely. The action is great. There is humor mixed in with this story, along with some intense scenes that might be a little scary for very young children. I sort of feel that this one should carry a PG-13 rating.
All in all, this is a well written story told well. You will root for the right people at the right time, feel heartbreak when heartbreak should be felt, and feel betrayal when that is warranted. It's an excellent summer movie, worth seeing, and one that is being maligned unfairly.