"I Had Wings Once. They were Stolen From Me."
If all you care about is seeing some dragon action on the screen, you may like this film. But if, like me, you are fuming over the fact that Maleficent’s coup de grace, her finishing move, perhaps the power that DEFINED the character has been taken away from her and given to one of her toadies, then I wouldn’t touch this film with a ten-foot pole.
“Maleficent” had a way of injuring me, not all at once but with little jabs and shocks, until by the end of the film it was taking everything I had to avoid shouting at the screen. I’ve always admired the character for her blatant bad-assery, her cunning, and her unflinching use of her power. What makes Maleficent a great character beyond her villainy, however, is that every decision she makes is self-motivated. In its efforts to make her sympathetic, this film ends up taking a lot of things from the character. Her brutality, her enjoyment in using her skills, and her ambition are all gone. One of the best villains in the Disney canon has been replaced by a woman who could not come into her own power until a man she trusted screwed up her life. She becomes reactionary. She becomes a “strong woman in a man’s world” instead of someone perfectly capable of running the show from the start.
Even more unfortunately, Maleficent is not the only character who suffers in this retelling. The good faeries are reduced to bumbling idiots with little concept of how the world works or how to deal with each other. King Stefan is downright foul, devolving through the course of the film from power-hungry douche to straight-up insane. Prince Philip, who already didn’t have much going for him, is completely USELESS set dressing who may as well have been cut from the film altogether. Really, the only character who gains agency is Aurora, but she’s still an insufferable ball of sunshine and happiness in what clearly wants to be a grimdark fantasy. The filmmakers miss so many opportunities to tell the story they seemed to want to tell, and the strong choices they did make are completely insulting to their source material.
Of course, depending on who you are, you might not care about all this. The movie does have nice pacing (mostly), and the special effects are engaging enough. Angelina Jolie does a stellar job as the version of Maleficent that was written for her. She’s able to tap into the vulnerable, damaged soul and the cruel, heartless villain, often within seconds of film time. But that makes things frustrating, too. Jolie proves that she is able to make Maleficent sympathetic even at her worst. Why the writer felt the need to alter her beyond recognition is beyond me, and completely spoils what could have been a fine movie.
...this Maleficent cocktail. Cocktails by Cody has all kinds of Disney-themed drinks, and this one seems sinister enough.
-Drink whenever Maleficent mentions her wings.
-Drink for flying or wing imagery.
-Drink when Maleficent calls Aurora "Beastie"
-Drink when someone or something transforms.
-Drink for magic.
This article is written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). Maleficent is produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Moving Pictures Company. This movie is rated PG with a run time of 97 minutes.