Film Review: Maleficent

Monday 7 July 2014 by

Maleficent, Disney, Film

Insert sad face here. Prepare yourself people, this isn’t going to be pretty. Picture me hand writing this, my tears dotting the page as I write these words. Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic but I have good reason. Not only is Sleeping Beauty my favourite Disney film ever in the whole entire world, but Maleficent is the ultimate Evil Queen and the perfect character for a live action film. Unfortunately this film fails to deliver at every possible opportunity. From the script, to the casting and the 3D effects there is not one redeeming quality. Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s do this.

The script. Imagine every possible Hollywood cliché you can think of. That’s it. That’s the script. Predictable and un-original, the whole story feels rushed with a lot of help coming from a narrator to weave the scenes together. The film described itself as the backstory to Maleficent, explaining why she became the villain we all know (and love) but that part of the story was over in about 20 minutes. The character of Maleficent maybe had about 4 lines, and the rest of the story was told through 3D imagery and the Narrator. They had such an iconic character with absolutely no back story, and that’s the best they could come up with? Good girl gone bad, where have we seen that before? Oh yeah, EVERYWHERE.

If you’ve seen Wicked – The Musical, then you’ve already got a good idea of the plot to this movie. (And at least they kept the Wicked Witch Green!)

So after we get to find out why Maleficent goes all bad-ass, we are abruptly thrust into the Sleeping Beauty story. Know I know that every screenwriter (10 in this case) wants to put their own stamp on an already established story, so I went in expecting some new twists and turns, but not only did they give the film a new direction, they completely changed major staples such as the relationships between characters, time scales and most importantly; the ending. None, it bears repeating, NONE of these changes added anything to the story and in my humble opinion caused the characters actions and relationships to become less ‘believable’ with little, if no tension or pathos.

Just to cement how lazy these screenwriters were, the story is full of plot holes and missed opportunities. Simple details of how Maleficent’s costume came about were missed and to explain the magical staff she carries, she simply picked up a broken stick and turned it into one. Yeah. Just picked up a stick. That’s inspired writing right there. Don’t even get me started on Diablo, her ‘pet’ Raven. Maleficent is also equipped with some pretty impressive magical powers but at certain moments in the film she seems to just, I don’t know, forget she has them. I kept questioning why she wasn’t using her powers during certain scenes and this also rendered the ‘dramatic’ final battle scene completely ridiculous and irrelevant. The ending also displays the weak script perfectly. They try to capture Maleficent with an iron net, iron apparently burns fairies, but the woundscaused by this heals itself instantly. So no real damage done, and no real point to it. It will never kill her, it will burn her but completely heal itself in seconds. There’s the tension removed immediately. We know it can’t do any harm to her. What’s the point of adding that? Focus on character and story development Disney instead of these pointless references. (One of my favourite parts of the finale included Maleficent rolling out of the iron net and inexplicably losing her original costume, transforming herself into cat-woman in a black leather all-in-one jumpsuit)

The ending is predictable, the story has been told a thousand times before, the script weak and unoriginal. Even the 3D effects don’t make up for this.

Maleficent, Disney, Film

Many times during the film, the ‘green screen’ effect is apparent, blazingly highlighting the fact that the actors are not in their surroundings. I mean, obviously they’re not but if we can realistically put Sandra Bullock in “Space”, we can put Angelia Jolie in a forest. The opening 10 minutes are comparable to a Kardashian Wedding. Over-the-top, done for effect with no real meaning or sincerity, shameless self-promotion and impressive only to those who look outside instead of in. The only digital creation in the film I couldn’t stop admiring was Maleficent’s cheekbones. I keep waiting for mine to look like that.

Angelia Jolie was the PERFECT choice for Maleficent. Apart from an uncanny resemblance, she possess this unique aura that made her popular for the role before the film version was even confirmed. Unfortunately her talents are completely wasted. She is never given the opportunity to stretch her acting wings and demonstrate the many complex layers of such a unique character.  Apart from one brief scene Maleficent remains one dimensional, relying on a look or snarl to deliver the desired effect. In Angelia’s defence she is given nothing to work with but why she took on this role after reading the script is beyond me. Although I suppose with 6 kids to feed, sometimes you just say yes.

The other characters didn’t fare well either. Elle Fanning who played Aurora almost put me to sleep, but by her acting not a spinning wheel. Her accent (whatever it was supposed to be) was confusing and didn’t add anything to the character.  The 3 fairies, who I presume were written to be the comic relief never once raised a laugh from the audience. Prominent in the original Disney film, their roles were now reduced to bit-parts and their presence really wasn’t necessary in this adaptation. Brenton Thwaites who played Prince Phillip looked like he has just stumbled onto the set by accident, was mistaken by the director for an actor and was told “ACTION!”. Looking completely bewildered and nervous, his was another character that was not necessary in this film.

Maleficent, Disney, Film

It’s Disney, it’s Hollywood, it was never going to get an Oscar for best film, but I’m still bitterly disappointed. This character had so much potential, the story could have been so much more. Capitalising on the wave of fantasy fairy-tale films that are popular at the moment, this film feels rushed and its content unexplored. The screenwriters were lazy and unimaginative, probably due to the studio wanting a script ASAP to cash in on the trend. It’s my own fault, typical man I got excited too quickly. I was looking forward to meeting of my childhood idols but, like the old saying goes, never meet your heroes. You’ll only be disappointed.

You can follow Gordy on Twitter: @Gordy__W

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