Maleficent Review

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Posted June 6, 2014 by Kristina Poffenroth in Movies

WARNING: Minor Spoilers

After a smashing weekend in the box office, Maleficent brought in almost $70 million in US ticket sales, and over $100 million globally. Reviews on this film are divisive, with critics giving it an average score and audience members falling in love, which is often the case with movie reviews, but one thing is clear: audiences are loving the new onslaught of films with strong female leads, and Angelina Jolie is a shining example of just that in Maleficent.

The film opens with a young fairy girl, who we soon discover is Maleficent. She lives in the Moors, a magical kingdom that is consistently at odds with the neighboring human kingdom. Soon, a young boy wanders into the forest, trying to steal a jewel, and Maleficent is summoned to deal with him. Even as a young fairy, she is considered an authority in the Moors. The boy, Stefan, returns the jewel at Maleficent’s bidding, and an unlikely friendship is started.

As the two grow older, they (predictably) fall in love, and on Maleficent’s 16th birthday, he gives her “true love’s kiss,” or at least that’s what he calls it. After a few years, Stefan becomes so enveloped in the human world of greed and power, he stops coming to visit Maleficent, and we see nothing of him until the king is at the border of the Moors, launching an assault. Maleficent attacks the king, and when he is dragged back to the castle and lying on his death bed, he states that whoever avenges his death and kills Maleficent will be crowned king. I bet you can guess what happens next.

Stefan returns to the Moors and reconciles with Maleficent, only to drug her and cut off her wings (the main source of her power) while she was unconscious. He becomes King, marries the original king’s daughter, and shortly thereafter, Aurora is born.

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Maleficent is certainly an origins story, but it plays out in the same way that most origins stories involving female characters do. A spurned, heartbroken girl descends into villainy after some boy has come along and taken the meaning from her life, and she becomes hell-bent on revenge. The film buys into many of the same tired fairy-tale tropes we have always seen, but it does make attempts to dismantle them.

After Maleficent places the curse on Aurora, Maleficent follows her throughout her life, watching over her and making sure she reaches the tender age of 16, when she will prick her finger on the spindle. This is where the story really changes, and Maleficent begins to care for Aurora like a mother, from a distance.

While this isn’t one of the greatest films of all-time, and it doesn’t really deconstruct the Sleeping Beauty story entirely, it works well with the film. Jolie really is the perfect Maleficent, her face is so expressive that even an arch of an eyebrow conveys so much. While she became a villain, she was also a protector of the Moors from the start, and defended them fiercely. The fey creatures she protected may have been a little afraid of her after she went dark-side, but she never harms them.

Maleficent is not a love story in the traditional sense. King Stefan and Maleficent both repeatedly state that there is no such thing as true love, although it’s unclear why King Stefan is so surprised and outraged by Maleficent’s revenge when he was the one who betrayed her in the first place. The real love story takes place between Maleficent and Aurora, and it’s sweet, but it would have been more powerful is Aurora had been a little more exciting of a character. She is cute, and she is happy and sweet, but that’s really all that can be said about her.

Overall, Jolie really is carrying this film, but that doesn’t mean the rest of it was wretched. She was amazing, and everything else was just pretty good. Even without seeing the movie in 3D, the graphics were visually appealing. It’s definitely due a second watch.


About the Author

Kristina Poffenroth

Kristina is a nerdy slam poet from the West. Her weaknesses are books, Nintendo games, and more books.