Walt Disney Pictures opens the revisionist Maleficent on Friday.
Sleeping Beauty, the Disney classic, celebrates it’s 55th anniversary this year. How does Disney celebrate? By releasing a revisionist take told from the villain’s point of view. What in the world was the studio thinking?!? While Sleeping Beauty’s story dates back to Charles Perrault writing it in 1697, Maleficent dates back to the animated film in 1959.
Robert Stromberg directed the 98 minute film from a screenplay written by Linda Woolverton. Woolverton, of course, is no stranger to Disney having written both Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
Angelina Jolie leads a cast that includes Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville.
Maleficent joins the live-action Alice in Wonderland (2010) and the 2015 live-action Cinderella when it comes to classic animated Disney films seeing a live-action film. It’s not that I have a problem with the live-action version because I don’t. It’s the creative decisions that Disney decided to do here.
Woolverton, in essence, has made Disney’s most iconic villain, Maleficent, an anti-hero in this untold story of what happened to her that turned her heart from pure to stone. If being an anti-hero works for all these great television characters why not try it on film?
After falling in love with Stefan as a young fairy protecting the moors, Maleficent is betrayed when he cuts off her kings in order to become king. Driven by revenge, Maleficent places a curse on the newborn princess, Aurora.
As she grows older, Aurora believes Maleficent to be her fairy godmother. Walt Disney would never have allowed that to happen! Anyway, she is soon caught in a conflict between her father, who she believes to be dead, and Maleficent, who she has grown to love.
Aurora runs home when she finds out her father is alive. But because it’s her sixteenth birthday, the curse is enacted. Locked in her room, she escapes and soon finds herself outside where she pricks her finger on a spinning needle. This is one action that never changes no matter who tells the story.
Resulting from Aurora’s run home, Maleficent is forced to take actions that will change both worlds forever.
Prince Phillip, played by Brenton Thwaites, is very underused for the prince that kissed the girl, only to see her still sleeping. True Love’s Kiss, in this instance, is seen through revisionist history. This is this biggest twist of them all.
Creatively speaking, it was a good decision to start out with Maleficent as a young girl falling in love with Stefan.
Overall, the film is a let down. Maleficent never turns into a dragon. Jolie’s best scene is during the throne room and that’s it.