I have never been more wrong in my movie-going life.
Yes, Maleficent is a twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villain we all just found out the name of... but it is also a tale of redemption, war, insanity, greed, vengeance, and true love.
Beginning years and years before Aurora was born, the film follows Maleficent as she grows up in a land called the Moors (she'd actually a fairy! Who knew?), a peaceful realm full of all types of mythical creatures. Across the meadow is the kingdom we are all too familiar with from the Disney classic, at war with the Moors simply because of the strangeness of the creatures who inhabit them. We watch Maleficent grow from a love-struck young girl to the all powerful Protector of the Moors, until tragedy strikes and leaves her as the bitter villain she has been portrayed as for over 50 years.
Spoilers now, so shield your eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What I enjoyed most about Maleficent was what I also kinda disliked: It completely changed Sleeping Beauty. I grew up singing "Once Upon a Dream," begging my mom to dress up my own stuffed animals in my grampa's clothes so I could pretend he was Prince Philip. I have plans to name one of my future daughters Aurora. I watched it pretty much every day of my early life.
Of course, it was hard to grasp the idea of Maleficent being the good guy. All of these new anti-hero tropes in modern film seem very trite, so I watched very critically during the first few minutes of the movie.
But as the film progressed and we delved deeper into Maleficent's character, the change became much easier to accept. Angelina Jolie's portrayal of Maleficent was strong yet vulnerable, although her performance felt a bit canned as she awoke to being wingless. Her relationship with Aurora was complex, and Jolie handled this task with the utmost elegance and beauty.
Oddly enough, the betrayal of Stefan had me up in my seat saying "YES GIRL, CURSE THAT BABY."
This trend of Disney movies straying away from traditional true love and moving towards more femininely empowered endings, and this was expected to feel a bit trite in Maleficent. And no way was Philip going to save the day; he had like two minutes of screen time.
Such an ending could expect to feel a little Frozen-esque, but the genuine grief and hopelessness the scene presents as Maleficent softly kisses Aurora goodbye gives it its own special place in the Disney repertoire.
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All in all, Maleficent was a fantastic addition to the Disney collection, a fresh new twist on the aged 1959 classic. Packed with awesome CGI effects and powerful acting. A definite must see for Disney lovers and their annoyed friends alike.