(Warning! There are spoilers in these woods! Be careful in your tread! You have been warned)
Maleficent is movie number five in the big budget, live action, Hollywood fairy tale reinvention series that’s currently en vogue. Other entries were Red Riding Hood (2011), Snow White And The Huntsman (2012), Hansel And Gretal: Witch Hunters (2013) and Jack And The Giant Slayer (2013). Maleficent is similar to Jack And The Giant Slayer in that its concept is to show the “real story” behind the fairy tale, with this movie it’s Cinderella, but told from the perspective of the perceived “evil witch.”
In this version Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is the Queen of the Fairies who lives in this idyllic landscape called, The Moors. The movie covers a lot of years in its 97-minute runtime. It starts off with—SPOILER ALERT!—an elderly Aurora (Janet McTeer) narrating the events. We see Maleficent as a young, winged fairy that encounters a lost boy in her realm. This boy is Stefan (Sharlto Copley), a future King, and we see the both of them grow up and fall in love. Sort of. Around their 16th year Stefan decides to spend more time in the human world and becomes totally entrenched in it.
The relationship comes to a breaking point when Stefan’s father decides to try and invade the Moors, resulting in a small-scale battlefield tangle with the Moors expertly rendered CGI denizens. Maleficent bests the King and his men and he is in no small way warned to never show his face around these parts again.
This is when Stefan a grown man worms his way back into Maleficent’s life in an effort to try and kill her, but he can’t so he chops her wings off and offers this as evidence to his father that she is no more. This act instantly makes him King.
This act of betrayal has a two-fold effect, as most betrayals tend to do. It turns Maleficent vengeful and bitter and makes Stefan initially paranoid and guilty. Maleficent gets a chance to personify her vengeance into a curse when she learns Stefan and the Queen have a child. She visits one day and curses baby Aurora to a deep coma like sleep that will last forever when she turns 16 and pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, with the only cure being a kiss from her true love. The catch here, in Maleficent’s mind, is that there is no such thing as true love ensuring Aurora (Elle Fanning) will sleep forever and ever.
Stefan’s reaction to this curse is to find every spinning wheel in existence, burn them and store their remains in a dungeon and to have these fairies hide Aurora away in the country, raise her and bring her back the day after her 16th birthday. And while Stefan grows more paranoid and vengeful over the years, always trying to find some way into the Moors to kill Maleficent, the so-called, “evil witch” unexpectedly feels compassion for Aurora and unwittingly becomes the child’s “fairy godmother,” watching over her as she grows up.
In this retelling, Maleficent is the anti-hero, and that legend of Cinderella we all know has it all wrong. Stefan is the real villain and that kiss from her true love, which is supposed to break the curse, has an unexpected twist that I thought was nice.
This was yet another movie I had not seen, that I was curious about, that I assumed would be a mild distraction, but in the end turned out to be a keeper. Like I am with Tom Cruise I’m not a fan of Angelina Jolie either, but her role in this movie, like Cruise’s character in Edge Of Tomorrow (2014), struck me just right, and I was utterly surprised by that.
The main reason I wanted to review this was the dragon I saw in the trailer. And in Cinderella we all know Maleficent is supposed to transform into one, in the “true account” we find out exactly how the dragon figures in, and the CGI for it was spectacular.
On November 4th Disney releases the movie in two separate editions: a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo and the single disc DVD.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition widescreen—English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital 5.1—English SDH, French, Spanish
Extra features consist of the following.
- Aurora: Becoming A Beauty (4:45)
- From Fairy Tale To Feature Film (8:14)
- Building An Epic Battle (5:48)
- Classic Couture (1:35)
- Maleficent Revealed (4:45)
- Deleted Scenes (6:41)
The Deleted Scenes consist of 5 scenes that can be played separately or all at once. Personally, I think all of them should have been put back in. A couple have unfinished effects. The three best featurettes are the From Fairy Tale To Feature Film (covers the fable, the animated movie and the live action film), Building An Epic Battle (a stunt and FX deconstruction of the battlefield confrontation) and Maleficent Revealed (a montage of scenes that shows the FX before and after).