I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Maleficent

tn_maleficent(lots of spoilers throughout this one, if you care)

I don’t want to bust your fuckin bubble man but some of the shit in the Disney movies is kinda dramatized and what not. For example the movie POCAHONTAS and probly also POCAHONTAS II in my opinion is more a cartoon fantasy musical based on the legend of John Smith being rescued by Pocahontas than a legitimate historical document. Well, now the Walt Disney Studios live action division has courageously blown the lid off the old animation studio, accusing them of fudging some of the facts in their classic SLEEPING BEAUTY. Touché. Hats off to Disney for exposing all this before WikiLeaks or somebody did.

If you are not familiar with SLEEPING BEAUTY it is an ironic title in my opinion because it’s the best looking Disney cartoon but also… let’s say, not the least boring one. It’s about a princess cursed by a wicked sorceress so that when she turns 16 she’ll die except a fairy godmother changes it so she’ll only fall asleep. That’s better than dying, but the catch is she can’t ever wake up, except there’s this loophole that a kiss of true love can do it. But how the fuck would that happen oh wait there’s a handsome prince willing to kiss a sleeping gal, so it works out.

If that whole story seemed kinda suspicious to you then you’re gonna see MALEFICENT and you’re gonna be like “I knew it. I fuckin knew it!” This is the story of how that sorceress Maleficent was not really the wicked old bitch who goes around cackling and talking about how evil she is, she’s just a strong woman who got a bum rap from a patriarchal society. After seeing this, SLEEPING BEAUTY will seem like racist anti-fairy propaganda.

See, in this newly unclassified story Maleficent (Angeline Jolie, CYBORG 2) was actually a fairy in a bordering fairy kingdom that the humans were at war with. She had horns – I never took that thing on her head as anything other than a scary hat, but there you go – and also huge bird wings.

mp_maleficentIt’s kinda like Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, it starts earlier with our villain as a kid, shows where she’s coming from, then eventually retells the original story in a different way. When she was little she met this human kid named Stefan who wandered over the border. Then they grew up, they weren’t together anymore, and she led the fairies in battle or whatever. Little animated plant gnomes running around and shit. She’s flying around doing awesome poses.

So the king needs to shut her down. To the king Maleficent is like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or somebody. He’s dying and he says he’ll give his crown to whoever kills her.

Stefan is grown up now and I’m afraid I have some bad news: he’s played by Sharlto Copley. So he’s not gonna sweep her off her feet in my opinion. Instead he (spoiler) is a total creepo who roofies her and cuts off her wings while she’s asleep. Not to jerk off onto or anything, but to bring to the king. Still pretty fucked up.

Man, you know what a popular character King Stefan from SLEEPING BEAUTY was for Disneyphiles, too. The legions of King Stefanmaniacs are gonna be pissed about this movie, but sometimes you gotta tell the hard truths.

Answer this for me, skeptics. Based on your life experience, which of these two scenarios sounds more plausible to you:

1) Maleficent cursed a baby to sleep because she was pissed that the father – her first love – betrayed her, gave her a rape drug and mutilated her for political gain

2) Maleficent cursed a baby to die because she didn’t get invited to a christening

It’s gotta be 1, right? 2 is some sexist shit King Stefan would say while drinking with his poker buddies. “Oh Maleficent, that bitch, you know how they are. I didn’t get invited to the christening, I’ll get you! Yap yap yap. Get back in the kitchen.” Never mentions what he really did to her. I can picture it exactly.

Anyway I like this horrible turn of events because it’s so evil and yet possibly a reference to another fairy tale adapted into Disney animation, Snow White. Remember, the huntsman was supposed to cut out Snow White’s heart as proof that he killed her. (Like he couldn’t carry the whole body. She wasn’t that big.) Stefan is supposed to kill Maleficent but he only cuts off her wings and pretends she’s dead. In his mind he’s probly doing her a favor. He thinks he’s a great guy ’cause he didn’t murder her! He merely cut off the symbol of her freedom, her self expression, her majesty. Also, on a literal level, they are actual useful body parts that he severed. Not cool.

It’s a movie that’s unusually casual about men being a bunch of assholes. The only man she can trust she made out of a bird. Stefan seems like a nice kid when she meets him. He does a sweet thing by throwing away his iron ring when he finds out it burns her. She gets stuck on this as a sign of affection, but he probly never thinks about it again. They fall in love but then it skips over time, they grew apart, now he’s a total scumbag! Most movies would feel there needed to be an explanation for this, a reason why he went bad. I like that this movie doesn’t. It’s just, some guys are scumbags. And what better actor to cast than Copley for a “jesus I can’t believe I used to like that guy” type of role. We know from the remake of OLDBOY that he’s a specialist at playing despicable assholes with weird combo accents.

So it becomes kind of a revenge story. She starts dressing like the black-robed sorceress from the cartoon and does the sleepy curse on the king’s new baby Aurora. See, this was cruel to do to the baby but it had a specific meaning. It was sleep because this motherfucker gave her a sleep drug. Basically he raped her. You can’t deny the symbolism. And she’s throwing it back at him. The fairy with the dragon tattoo.

Then, what the cartoonists didn’t want you to know is that Maleficent spied on Aurora (Elle Fanning, who also helped shed light on NUTCRACKER: THE UNTOLD STORY) so much as she was growing up that the girl noticed her and mistook her for a fairy godmother. And she played along but like in a romantic comedy she actually started to like the girl after a while, and became sincerely protective of her. She felt so bad she tried to undo the curse but she was way too good of a curser, she made it pretty air tight other than that true love’s kiss loophole.

I think this is a clever story, I enjoyed it. In the catalog of modern live action Disney this is not a misunderstood success like THE LONE RANGER, an interestingly ambitious mess like TRON LEGACY or JOHN CARTER. And it’s not quite like the nice looking but crappy ALICE IN WONDERLAND or the pretty fun OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. It’s more thematically tied with (though not as good as) their run of computer animated reworkings of their old princess formulas (BRAVE, TANGLED, FROZEN – the adjective trilogy).

Take for example how it resolves the matter of this true love business. In SLEEPING BEAUTY this Prince Philip character is not a total plank, he does have a little personality, but he barely knows the girl. He just runs into her one time in the woods and flirts with her briefly. Then he kisses her while she’s asleep and it turns out it was meant to be, they get married and everything. Coincidentally, this turn of events was also what King Stefan and whatever Philip’s dad’s name is decided when Aurora was born. Interesting that an arranged marriage for political gain would happen to also be magical true love destined by fate.

In MALEFICENT Phillip (Brenton Thwaites) seems like he could be a dreamboat from that British boy band they like, and once again they only meet briefly in the woods. When the fairy godmothers try to get him to kiss her while she’s in a coma he responds correctly: I barely know her. Also, she’s asleep. This is fuckin weird you guys. I’m uncomfortable with this. When they get him to do it, it doesn’t work.

(I think you can guess what does wake her up. I certainly saw it coming but it was also a satisfying turn of events I think.)

In the big happy ending, as Aurora is being crowned (in a completely different context from how it happens in the cartoon), Phillip arrives. She looks over at him and smiles. And of course you know he’s gonna come over and they’re gonna embrace and it’s love and they live happily ever after… Except no, it doesn’t happen. He keeps his distance, standing over with a crowd of fairy beings. She probly thinks he’s cute and wants to get to know him or whatever, but this is her moment. He’s just one of the many people there to cheer her on.

(Theory: She never ended up dating him and he turned into an asshole like her old man. After all, somebody had to have spread that story that became SLEEPING BEAUTY. Usually history is written by the winners, but here we have Maleficent winning and still being remembered as the bad guy. Phillip seems like the most likely suspect because he was the one who tried kissing her while she was asleep, therefore he would be the one who would fixate on the “sleeping beauty” aspect of the story, and also make himself out to be the big hero. So FUCK YOU, Prince Phillip. You can’t fool me. I got your number.)

I like how these movies play off of the formulas established in decades worth of previous Disney fairy tales. I got excited when SPOILER Stefan fell to his death, ’cause they shot it like Hans Grueber’s SPOILER FOR DIE HARD death. But then I realized the real reason it was great was because of tradition. Tons of Disney villains die by plunging, going as far back as SNOW WHITE and as recent as TANGLED. King Stefan plummets and Maleficent doesn’t. What more proof do we need that she’s not the bad guy in all this?

To be honest it’s more interesting as Disney revisionism than as art. There are some nice shots in it but it certainly doesn’t compare to how gorgeous the cartoon is, and I think the various creature designs are pretty mediocre. The dragon (which is not Maleficent – you have been lied to, people) could especially stand to take more inspiration from the angular look in the cartoon.

The best thing about it is Jolie. She’s somewhat of a human cartoon anyway, and she knows it. (They still had to put fake cheekbones on her.) I was slow to pick up on it but Jolie is really cool because although she’s an Academy Award winning dramatic actress and renowned humanitarian who probly doesn’t really have to do movies like this anymore, she still likes to bust ’em out every couple years. While her passion may be in playing the wife of a murdered CIA agent or directing the biopic of a WWII P.O.W. I think she has a special talent for playing these larger-than-life characters like Lara Croft, Grendel’s mom and the gal in WANTED. I mean, if she didn’t want to play Maleficent they probly woulda had to shut it down. Rachel McAdams couldn’t’ve done it.

If this movie catches on it’s gonna cause some real confusion in kids who love the character in this movie and then go watch SLEEPING BEAUTY. I’d like to think some little crumbcrushers are gonna learn to question the official stories they hear. They’re gonna be watching that movie saying “what, this is bullshit, she got railroaded by these assholes. They’re gonna blame this on her? And those three fairies are gonna take all the credit? They didn’t know what the fuck they were doing, she woulda starved to death in a house full of squirrel shit if it was up to them. This whole thing is a fraud.” Little Disney truthers out there.

Whatever you believe about Sleeping Beauty you need to make up your own mind man so it can’t hurt to have this out there, it’s just more information for you to consider

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 at 2:09 am and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

25 Responses to “Maleficent”

  1. BRAVE, TANGLED, FROZEN – the adjective trilogy

    brilliant

    also, the real pocahontas:

  2. Also, if you’ve seen Hellboy 2, you know that eventually shit gets real bad again between the humans and the fairy kingdom…

  3. Stefan’s death is especially interesting, I guess, because Maleficent is one of the few Disney villains who DIDN’T die by plunging. Prince Phillip throws a sword through her neck. (In my opinion, one of the better Disney deaths.)

  4. I thought this was a pretty good movie, especially the first 2/3. The one part that really irked me was when Aurora gets crowned and is queen of all the land instead of just her side. If I recall correctly, the beginning of the movie really stresses how the human side has kings and queens but the fairies don’t need that shit. And then when Maleficent makes herself queen of the magic land, it seems like she knows its wrong and the magic creatures want no kings, but she’s pissed and doesn’t give a fuck. I guess it just seemed kind of shitty for them to not abolish the monarchy at the end when the king is vanquished, and instead crown a new human to rule over the affairs of all the land and just hope it will all be chill. Seemed like a bad move and kind of went against what had happened before

  5. I loved this movie. Not only is it an extremely satisfying revenge/redemption movie, but as a modern Exile in Guyville-style response to Sleeping Beauty, it’s almost miraculous. I still can’t believe Disney approved and produced a re-telling that shits all over the original, and rightly so. Every single problem I had with Sleeping Beauty, which I saw for the first time the night before Maleficent (which is probably the best way to watch them both) was resolved – the wafer-thin plot that could barely fill a 15 minute sketch, the non-character development of Aurora, the complete joke of a love story, the random non-motivation of the villainness, the ENDLESS Jar Jar Binks-style antics of the fairies, etc…. Don’t get me wrong, the movie could have just been a checklist of “things that didn’t work in the original so we should change them” – but instead, the story is organic and involving and sure, it can be broad and on the nose- but in a fairy tale way, not a “bad script” way.

    And I’ll admit it – I cried twice, weirdly once early on when I realized how the solution was going to happen (“they’re not really going to have THAT happen, are they??”) and then again when it actually happened onscreen (“holy crap I can’t believe they went through with it”) I can’t really describe why I got so emotional during this movie, and I strangely had the same feeling Vern talked about at the end of Aliens (there’s alot of a “Newt-warms Ripley’s steely heart” vibe here) – after it was over, and the Lana Del Rey song started, I knew I liked it but I didn’t particularly want to talk about it or get out of my seat or really do anything. I was just overcome with emotion like I haven’t been in a long time. Alot if it might be because:

    *SPOILERS* I had mixed feelings about her getting her wings back at the end – on one hand it seems like a storytelling cheat, or a comic-book style reversal that harmlessly fixes earlier consequences. But considering how traumatizing the post-rape scene in this is, (and it’s incredibly upsetting -I figured only adults would “get it” but there were literally kids crying in the theater during that scene), I think her getting her wings back, effectively showing that the rape couldn’t break her or define her, was one of the strongest images I’ve seen in a kid’s movie in forever.

  6. Interesting points about the ending, fellas. I guess maybe since both kingdoms are uniting they’re making a compromise by continuing the human system but with a leader trusted by the fairy people. But not a good long term plan. Unless this is only an interim government.

    Neal, I love what you said about getting the wings back, and about that crying scene. It’s true, the scene it most reminded me of was Beatrix Kiddo in KILL BILL when she realizes what’s happened to her.

    I’m genuinely relieved I’m not the only one here who liked this one. Most of the websights I read have been shitting on it and I thought maybe I’d be alone on it.

  7. It figures it would be something like this.

  8. Knox Harrington

    June 11th, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Well shit, I kinda feel like I should go watch this now. I usually don’t read many of your reviews for movies I haven’t seen, mostly to avoid spoilers, and I only read this one because I figured I won’t ever go out of my way to catch this, but I do love me a good revenge/redemption tale. This sounds almost Count of Monte Cristo-esque. I’m in.

    SPOILERS-IN-THE-REVIEW RELATED: Is there really rape in this, though? Almost sounds like you guys read too much subtext into the mood of the scene. Were they maybe trying to convey a sense of violation because of the severed wings and you guys associated rape? Just a thought. I’ll have to see for myself.

  9. Yeah I really don’t get why almost every movie website is shitting on this movie. Even the people over at Jezebel and Gawker, whom I figured would LOVE the changes to the source material, hate this movie – 1) for not being campy and over-the-top enough, because I guess they wanted it to be Hocus Pocus or something and 2) they felt the rape metaphor was inappropriate for a kid’s movie, even though what could possibly be a stronger message to young girls than “you can (literally) rise above horrible shit that’s happened to you”.

    And the fact that people negatively compare it to the original – have they SEEN the original? I implore everyone to watch it if they haven’t – it’s excruciating and surprisingly amateurish. The scenes with the fairies engaging in the aforementioned Binks-ian “physical humor” stop the movie dead, and they go ON AND ON AND ON. What’s the moral of the story exactly? What is it trying to say? Aurora is the world’s most passive heroine (literally!) – and all her problems are solved because a guy she met for 3 minutes falls in love with her? And as Vern said, good thing it’s the rich prince she was already arranged to marry! I know a Romeo & Juliet/class difference subplot probably wasn’t fresh even in 1959, but it’s SOMETHING. There’s no tension in the story at any point whatsoever.

    The prince is such a non-character he literally doesn’t say anything for the entire second half of the movie. Maleficent chains him up and talks smack to him about how she cursed Aurora – he sits there and says nothing with no expression on his face. The fairies break him out of prison, he still doesn’t react and still says nothing. They give him a magic sword and shield, he says nothing. No “thank you”, no “where’s the princess?” It’s like the animators didn’t feel like animating him speaking anymore or the voice actor went on strike. Even after he wakes up Aurora they don’t say a word to each other; they don’t even sing! Seriously! Per IMDB Aurora herself has only 18 lines of dialogue, and her last line is 39 minutes into the film(!!) And this is a movie that Jezebel-types rate as a classic? Are you kidding me? I mean, I guess it passes the tired Bechdel(?) test since the fairies talk about making pies and cutting dresses for about 20 MINUTES NONSTOP, but c’mon!

  10. Knox – there’s no actual “rape”, no, but the implication is clear. I mean, she gets drugged and wakes up and touches her wounds and realizes what’s happened and screams horribly and cries for an uncomfortably long time. Critic Matt Soller Zeitz said it was one of the most traumatic scenes he’s ever seen in a kid’s movie and judging from the dead-silence of the adults in the audience and the crying of the kids I have to agree. (There’s also the meta-fact that Angelina Jolie is a) usually portrayed as steely/badass/in-control and b) just had a double mastectomy in real-life that makes the scene ultra-affecting to me. I don’t even really like thinking about it.)

    My girlfriend somehow didn’t pick up on the rape metaphor, so i don’t blame anyone for thinking people are reading into it. I honestly don’t know how she missed it since the next scene is the “having-trouble-walking scene”. For a minute I got REALLY scared the next scene would be the “take a shower quivering in the fetal position scene” but I’m really glad they didn’t go there. The king, who up until then was portrayed as a “nice guy”, basically spends the rest of the movie quiet and haunted and zoned out about what he did, not unlike similar characters in rape-revenge movies. And like those characters, you kind of feel sorry for the guy, you know he regrets it, you know he did what he did due to peer pressure, but you still want to see her get her sweet revenge on this asshole.

  11. Knox Harrington

    June 11th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    So are you saying that the scene is just a metaphor for rape, or that actual rape is implied? Meaning we the audience can assume he raped her as well as cut off her wings? If it’s the latter, it’s pretty fucked up for a Disney movie.

  12. Knox Harrington

    June 11th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I must say, Disney’s work over recent years haven’t impressed me much. I watched THE LONE RANGER a while back and I hate to be that guy, but I’m gonna be that guy: I thought it was pretty lousy.

    I feel terrible for saying that. I know a lot of people around here loved it, and I’m usually on the same page as you guys when it comes to that kinda thing (still a huge SUCKER PUNCH fan), but goddamn. I think Verbinski is a very good action director, the production value is stunning, but the tone was just too reliant on modern wit and wink-at-the-audience smugness for my tastes. A lot of it obviously has to do with the fact that my tolerance for kooky Johnny Depp (and his cinematic stalker Helena Bonham Carter) has reached absolute fucking zero, and that I dislike the way Hammer played the character. I guess I’m one of those guys who wanted something more sincere and pulpy. I knew it wasn’t gonna be THE PHANTOM, but it still reeks of one of those modern blockbuster messes that’s dictated by executives rather than actual storytellers.

    As for the others: I downright hated ALICE IN HALLOWEENLAND, thought TRON LEGACY was okay, genuinely liked JOHN CARTER, and never bothered with that OZ movie. There are more live-action fairy tales on the way, apparently. CINDERELLA, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (non-Del Toro/Emma Watson version), ALICE 2, even a possible Sofia Coppola LITTLE MERMAID movie.

    I wonder when the live-action Pixar movies trend is gonna start.

  13. Knox – sorry for the confusing verbiage – the movie does not imply he also sexually molested/raped her when he drugged her. He only cuts off her wings but the way the aftermath is filmed/acted and his regretful behavior afterward make it very clear it’s supposed to be a metaphor for rape (and female genital mutilation too if you want to keep reading into things like me).

  14. Knox Harrington

    June 11th, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for clarifying, neal. I must say, that aftermath scene sounds pretty hardcore. I’m not a fan of this thing where they try to reinvent every childhood story into a dark and perverted version of itself, but if some proper thought and meaning goes into it, good things can happen. I think it will be worth watching just to see how Jolie plays it.

  15. It’s interesting to see how these reimaginings tackle the retrograde gender issues in the original stories. I wonder if Disney will ever do a reinterpretation of one of their older movies that deals with the backwards racial issues in some of those movies.

  16. Uncle Remus Unchained?

  17. I would totally watch Uncle Remus get sweet, bloody satisfaction, so long as he also sings a couple of jaunty tunes along the way.

  18. It is indeed a rape metaphor, and consider this:
    Stefan starts out as a reasonably good guy, but when circumstances dictate, he takes advantage of a sleeping woman in a fairly insidious way.

    Philip starts out as a reasonably good guy, but when circumstances dictate, he hesitates to take advantage of a sleeping woman in a much less insidious way, but then ends up doing it anyway after like 8 seconds of encouragement.

    Maybe I’m being harsh on Philip but I can’t help but read a parallel, like maybe Philip isn’t a straight up shithead but the film is saying “there’s a potential Stefan inside all men”.

    Also I liked this line from this other review:
    “Maleficent, well-established within the film as capable of saving things from fatal drops, pointedly decides not to save Stefan.” -http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/ffc/2014/05/maleficent.html

    Didn’t you feel like it kind of glossed over Aurora’s reaction (or non reaction) to dad’s death?

  19. “Didn’t you feel like it kind of glossed over Aurora’s reaction (or non reaction) to dad’s death?”

    Keep in mind, to her, he was for all intents and purposes, a complete stranger. He gave her to the fairies as a baby, she never saw him at all growing up, and when she finally does meet him…he doesn’t seem to care about her in the least, he’s only concerned with killing her “fairy godmother”, the person who did far more to raise her than he did. It’s not like they really had a strong father/daughter relationship, she didn’t even know the king WAS her father till at the end.

  20. Yeah but she seems pretty invested in meeting him, and when she does, and he reacts as you describe, she’s like “WTF?” But there’s no closure on this, and then he dies, and then…?

  21. I just took it as after meeting him, she determined he was a lunatic, and that, combined with the fact that she never knew him(much less thought of him as a father), his death just didn’t really weigh that heavily on her.

  22. This film is an abject failure in terms of spectacle and a near masterpiece in terms of theme.

  23. Renfield – good point about the “there’s a potential Stefan in all men” – I thought the casting of Copley was kind of odd as he doesn’t seem like a strong enough actor to stand up to Jolie (imdb says Jude Law was another contender for the role) – but I think with his everyman looks, Copley has a relatability that someone more traditionally handsome and King-like like Law or Clive Owen or Gerard Butler or whoever else couldn’t quite pull off.

    I wasn’t too bothered by the ‘Maleficent not saving Stefan’ thing since it was the typical Hollywood “having your cake and eating it too” thing where they want to show the hero has changed but also want the audience to relish the death of the villain. I mean, every movie from Lethal Weapon 1 to Bad Boys 1 to Best of the Best 2 to Taken 2 has used that exact same bit so I was kind of numb to it. I do think his death and Aurora’s non-reaction to it could have been handled better but I’m not entirely sure how since he seemed too far gone to be saved and there probably wouldn’t be much peace in the kingdom if he lived. (I do like alot that it’s shown Stefan’s men don’t like him very much and every foot soldier that gets bashed around by Maleficent and her cronies still somehow survives with cuts and bruises like the old GI Joe Cartoon)

    Tawdry – I kind of agree – weirdly the WEAKEST part of the movie was the spectacle. The creatures and the sets and designs all had a “been there done that” feeling; it’s like they really had more interest in the themes of the script and the emphasis on visuals was workmanlike at best. If the film had the dream-like “this totally looks like a movie set but we don’t care” quality of Legend, this would be an instant classic. (Seriously, is it really be cheaper to CGI everything instead of building sets the old fashioned way? I imagine the budgets of Legend/Neverending Story/Dark Crystal, etc… weren’t huge back in their day even taking inflation into account)

  24. A lot of this movie was clearly recut and reshot. As a result, there are multiple “action” scenes made up entirely of close ups on Maleficent twirling her wings, intercut with close up reaction shots of soldiers and close up shots of weird, CGI beasties who never show up again. No establishing shots. No camera moves. No sense of geography whatsoever. They were made entirely in post.

    If you actually build a set and choreograph a scene, you’re stuck with that. If you shoot tons of coverage in front of a green screen, you can fix it later… Allegedly. It’s not that cgi is cheaper or even easier, it’s that a blank slate leaves you with more “options” and allows a studio to hedge its bets and micromanage after the shoot.

    This movie had an entirely different first act once. Stefan was half-elf and there was a monarchy in the elf world.

    It’s really obvious that something went awry during filming. Jolie is barely ever on screen with anyone else. She is almost always in a one-shot, medium or close up. And her scenes very often lack establishing shots, or moving cameras, or connection to the larger mis en scene. Plus, there wild tonal shifts with maleficent toying with the fairy godmothers for laughs right after cursing a baby to death.

    Stefan too is usually alone in a Dimly lit room with few, if any other actors in frame.

    And aurora is most often sitting around, looking at a cgi beastie – each of whom appears for one scene only – but not touching them, or directly reacting to them. I swear, that happens 6 times at least.

    The movie is a MESS on many levels… But the themes are so strong and true and deep and painful. Jolie deserves major props for making a movie to teach children about rape and an individual’s right to domain over his/her own body.

  25. You guys pretty much covered all the bases on this one. I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to see an animated film, or in this case a Disney film based on an animated Disney film from decades ago but I was drawn to the darker, more adult themes and was curious. I thought it was pretty good, involving all the way through. The date-rape/de-winging was some heavy shit to face early on. Jolies transformation to damaged dark sorceress was handled well. She wasn’t a cackling hag with warts on her nose or a cauldron of bones. I think because of Jolie’s vulnerability as an actress, there was always a sympathy for Maleficent’s tragic fate.

    I like how after she turned, her first spell was to free a captured crow, turn him into a man, Diaval, emasculate said man by making him her slave (“You will be my wings”), then use him when needed as either a crow, a horse or a dragon. Poor guy. I don’t mean to get all philosophical and shit,***START PHILOSOPHIZING***but I’ve known women who were seriously abused by men, and I kinda get why in real life they become control-freaks and need to be tough. Doesn’t make for an easy relationship, but you gotta know where people have come from. Work with it, if you can. Us men can all relate to being a Diaval at some point in our life.***END PHILOSOPHIZING***

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