My Rating: 4 stars
I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by movies lately. And, this is another movie that I ended up enjoying more than I had expected to. I do have a weakness for retellings of classic stories from a different perspective. So, this film was already right up my alley. It tells the Sleeping Beauty story from the point of view of the fairy Maleficent, who is traditionally seen as the villain. But, no character ever thinks she’s the bad guy in her own story. And, in this movie, we learn what motivates Maleficent to make the choices she did. And of course, her situation is much more complicated than it looks upon first glance.
Maleficent isn’t an evil fairy. She’s just a girl who had been betrayed, and whose heart is now filled with spite and revenge. We’ve all been there, right? And, you’ve never thought of yourself as evil—maybe just a little angry and misguided. But of course, it’s every individual’s choice whether to move beyond the hurt, or let that spite fester and consume one’s life. That’s not always an easy choice because nursing a grudge can feel so good. So, this movie is really a story about one fairy’s struggle with some very dark emotions. (Although, a little revenge couldn’t hurt in a fantastic, adventure film, right?) We can’t let that weasely, little prince who hurt our protagonist (Sharlto Copley) just get away with it. No, there will be a day of reckoning.
Angelina Jolie is amazing in this role. She’s a stunning woman, but as she’s aged she has become more striking and intimidating—less of a dewy sexpot. So, it was an inspired choice for her to move in a slightly more edgy direction, rather than desperately clinging to the ingénue and romantic lead roles that made her famous. And, she makes a very imposing, dark, fairy princess. My favorite bit of trivia from this movie is that they had to cast Jolie’s own daughter to play young Aurora, because she was the only child who wouldn’t cry when she saw Angelina in her full getup. That’s really cute. Elle Fanning is also very charming as the grown-up Aurora. She is beautiful and easy to love, just like the character is written.
I really enjoyed this movie, and I recommend it to anyone who likes fairy tales or fantasy worlds. Heck, go rent it even if you don’t traditionally go for this kind of fantastic fare. The casting is pretty perfect across the board. And the visuals are quite beautiful. The artists created a very lovely, magical forest for all the animals and fairies to live in. And, I really enjoyed the twist on the classic tale. Conflicts are never black-and-white in real life. There are always two sides to any story. So, I was very pleased that this film managed to capture that idea so well.