Maleficent is a 2014 American dark fantasy adventure film directed by Robert Stromberg from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton. A reimagining of Disney's classic film Sleeping Beauty, the film tells the story but from the point of view of Maleficent, the original film's iconic villain. It's noted for starting the current Disney live-action remakes trend.
In a reimagining of Disney's classic Sleeping Beauty, there was a young fairy named Maleficent once upon time. She fell in love with a farmboy named Stefan, who betrayed their relationship so he could become king. Losing her sanity, Maleficent curses Aurora, Stefan's daughter, to get back at him, but without intending to do so, she will grow close with the daughter of the man she once loved while he prepares to attack her.
Why It Rocks
- Good grasp of the source material, reimagining it from Maleficent's point of view and not copying the original film's story shot-by-shot.
- Good acting, namely that of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. The gal was born to play her, indeed!
- Some funny moments.
- Amazing worldbuilding.
- Great visuals.
- Maleficent's characterization as a tragic villain who stopped believing in true love upon being betrayed is original and creative. Being one of Disney's evilest villains, the film succeeds in making us sympathize and root for her.
- The rewrite of King Stefan as a villain and tying him into Maleficent's backstory was unexpected and well-executed, though some fans of the character didn't like the change.
- Diaval, Maleficent's pet raven, is given a larger role here and even speaks due to being transformed into a human time to time.
- The climax is altered in a perfect way. To wake up Aurora from her eternal sleep, an act of true love must be performed on her. In a similar vein to Frozen, rather than Prince Phillip's kiss, it's a kiss of Maleficent which awakes Aurora.
- The final battle is awesome.
- Unlike most Disney live-action remakes of their classic animated films, this one stands out by presenting an original re-telling of the original story and is quite decent.
- The film can be a little dark.
- The scene where Stefan cuts off Maleficent's wings while she sleeps has been referred to as an allegory to rape, which is somewhat innapropiate for a family-friendly film.
- While sympathetic, the three fairies are depicted in a bad light as three irresponsible and immature guardians who hardly raise Aurora on their own.
- Prince Philip barely appears unlike the original film and feels like an unnecesary addition to the film.
Critical reception to Maleficent ranged from mixed to positive. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 54%, based on 273 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Angelina Jolie's magnetic performance outshines Maleficent's dazzling special effects; unfortunately, the movie around them fails to justify all that impressive effort". On Metacritic, it received a score of 56 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". However, in both websites, it was much more positively received by audiences and fans.
Despite starting the current trend of Disney live-action remakes of the classic Disney Animated Canon films, which most have been badly criticized, Maleficent has been seen by most audiences as one of the best, for trying to deviate from the animated film and tell the original story from a different point of view. It was likewise appreciated for breaking classic fairy tale tropes. Aside the costumes, visual effects and musical score, Angelina Jolie's performance as the titular character was singled out by filmgoers as the best part of the whole film, even by those who didn't like the movie.
- Mary Costa, who voiced Princess Aurora in the original Sleeping Beauty, stated that Maleficent was "a very good movie", enjoying both the totally different concept and perspective than those of the original film as well as Angelina Jolie's performance.