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Maleficent Review: Despite a Mountain of Flaws is Ultimately Enjoyable

Maleficent

Rating:
Star3
Star
Star
Star
Star

There is certainly plenty to gripe about while watching Maleficent. For one, the CGI in the film is complete generic crap. It *looks* like CGI. It’s as though the special effect department has a new toy they wanted to play with and didn’t care about really blending the effects into the story. And there is nothing that really distinguishes the visual style from other recent “edgy” retellings of classic fairytales like Snow White and the Huntsman or Jack the Giant Slayer. Some of the scenery is pretty, but it’s not unique. It’s possible that this film will get an Oscar Nomination for visual effects, but Angelina Jolie deserves and Oscar for her performance far more than the visual effects team deserves one for theirs.
Another issue with this film is that the vast majority of the characters who are not Maleficent could have been completely taken out of the story without changing it or vastly improving it. The three good fairies are completely obnoxiously, insipidly stupid. Granted this is intended to be a family film, but the “humor” of the fairies wasn’t aimed at families. It was aimed at children who have had a few too many pixie sticks.
The kind in this film is character with potential that falls flat. Early on, the filmmakers beat the audience over the head with the notion that they are to feel no sympathy for him whatsoever. They continue to give the audience severe concussions with that notion every time he appears on screen.
There is a definite attempt to go for a feminist vibe in this film similar to the one achieved in Frozen. Some facets of the film achieve it with a mild degree of success. Unfortunately, Maleficent herself seems to be the only female character with a fully functional brain. Aurora has her moments of intelligence, but the filmmakers only did the bare minimum requirements with her character. Aurora’s mother is another character they could have expanded. The audience is told that the fact that her daughter is cursed has caused great distress to the queen, but that’s it. She’s basically an ornament with a tyrant king of a father who married her off to the most conniving schemer. Of course, the imbecile good fairies have already been mentioned in this review. It’s another reason why good female-centric films should be produced by talented women (or at least talented men with a healthy respect for women) whose primary goal is to *tell* a good story. Unfortunately Maleficent seems to have been produced by men whose primary goal was to use an intriguing premise and nifty CGI to *sell* a story.
Prince Phillip makes an appearance, but is ultimately reduced to having a moment of comic relief. This writer fully supports the message to women that they don’t need a man to be happy. Too many women settle for worthless men in the fear of being lonely. But there is certainly nothing wrong with finding a good man and having a mutually loving, respectful shared life. They could have left Prince Phillip out of the movie completely and still had the same effective message.
Despite all of the gripes listed in this review, this writer ended up actually enjoying this film. Angelina Jolie gave a phenomenal performance. She was always fun to watch. Diaval, her shape shifting servant was also continually enjoyable to watch. They both had good character arcs. The film had a decent plot despite the fact that it often took a back seat to the sometimes overwhelming special effects. Ultimately, this writer is likely to put this film into her Netflix queue, and possibly even buy the DVD when it is in the discount bin. This film could have been awesome, if the story and characters had been developed better, but as it is, it’s still and entertaining experience.