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Maleficent: Disney’s Next Magical Hit!

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Disney struck box office magic again this weekend as Maleficent knocked off X-Men: Days of Future Past from the top spot, taking in over $70 million!

Maleficent is the “untold story” of how the iconic villain from the classic animated film, Sleeping Beauty, turned to evil. It stars Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, Sharlto Copley as the King Stefan, Elle Fanning as Aurora and Sam Riley as Diaval the part time crow, part time human.

The film takes place in a land that contains a magical Forest Kingdom and a Human Kingdom. The Human Kingdom is as you would imagine and resembles your typical “Disney Kingdom” but the real amazement is the Forest Kingdom. We are treated to a magical land with beautiful ponds, forest, and exotic creatures. It reminded me of Pandora from James Cameron’s Avatar, but with a more familiar “non-glowing” forest feel. In this Forest Kingdom lives the young, Maleficent, who is revealed as a winged fairy and guardian of her land. This part of the film was warm and inviting and I wondered how they were going to transition this character into the evil witch we knew from the original Disney classic.

The film showcased amazing CGI special effects! This was especially true with the many creatures including the giant tree warriors, Aurora’s Pixie guardians, and the magical effects of Maleficent. This was further shown in the animation of Maleficent’s wings!

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Angelina Jolie who was also a Producer, was brilliant as Maleficent. For me, this was my favorite performance from Jolie. I felt that, even though she was a Disney character, her acting was very natural. I imagined her real personality coming through during the light hearted scenes. Her make up and eyes in the film were exotic and sometimes frightening! The film captured the live action feel of the 50 year old animated film. There is no-one else that could have played this role better!

Sharlto Copley played Maleficent’s Human childhood friend who would later become King through dubious and less than honest means. There has been criticism that the casting of Copley may have been a poor choice, but I felt that his style of acting and the progression he undertook from King to madness was his forte. You can see this talent in such previous films as The A-Team, and District 9.

I would argue that the real focus on the film was between King Stefan and Maleficent which originates from their past relationship and tragic betrayal, and it is Aurora that is used to fuel their hatred for one another. This eventually turns to a loving relationship between Aurora and Maleficent. The film then takes a strong shift to reveal the true and original nature of Maleficent.

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What I love about this film was the “female hero focus” of the film. Having two daughters, this is important to me. I want them to grow up learning and knowing that they are ever as equal to boys. This includes the importance of seeing strong female characters in media. Further to this was the very minor appearance of “the Prince”. This strong female lead is along the same lines as Disney’s epic animation blockbuster, Frozen.

I prefer this story over the original story of Sleeping Beauty. This story gives us more than a “black and white” reason to Maleficent’s fall to evil (the evil is more of a scorned anger) as the animated film portrayed, but gives us a deeper look and even has you empathizing. It will be interesting to see how Disney now portrays Maleficent, especially at its resorts. If they move to promote the softer version as portrayed in this film, what will become of their “Fantasmic” show at the Hollywood Studios park? I would love to see her part removed. As well, would she be among the actors in the park that would join the Princesses (I know she isn’t a Princess, but…) that children meet for autographs? Time and box office money will tell.

When Disney’s Frozen came out my daughters were obsessed, and still are! My home is covered in merchandise, dolls, pics, posters and more. When Maleficent ended and the lights came on, my oldest daughter turned to me wide eyed and still reflecting on the film she witnessed and said, “I love Frozen so much, but Maleficent…I…I just LOVE IT!”

If you want to see a film with a strong cast, amazing characters and worlds and to see a story of betrayal, hatred, and love – THIS is the film for your family or with friends. Disney is on a roll with another future classic!

Final Rating: 4/4 – Go see this movie!

Steve “Rifflo” Fitch – News Director

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Steve, also known as “Rifflo”, is a University MBA Administrator in Ontario Canada where he lives with his wife, Lisa and two young daughters, Alexa and Ava. Steve has an extensive background in corporate sales. Steve also worked for ISAF: International Security Assistance Force and the Canadian Military as a recruiter in Human Resources for the operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan. When not immersed in Tolkien works,sci-fi, and film, you can find him training in Muay Thai, Italian rapier, German longsword, and Mixed Martial Arts. Follow Steve on Twitter @HobbitSteve

About reuben

Steve, also known as “Rifflo”, is a University MBA Administrator in Ontario Canada where he lives with his wife, Lisa and two young daughters, Alexa and Ava. Steve has an extensive background in corporate sales. Steve also worked for ISAF: International Security Assistance Force and the Canadian Military as a recruiter in Human Resources for the operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan. When not immersed in Tolkien works,sci-fi, and film, you can find him training in Muay Thai, and Italian rapier.

8 comments

  1. I agree Steve! I very much liked this movie and this version. Angelina’s eyes are mesmerizing! I was less than impressed with the scene with the dragon. Have to say, it will take something monumental to top Smaug. I will be seeing this again on the big screen tho as my experience was interrupted several times. But it is a worthy movie to see twice. We’ve been to WDW several times and I must wholly disagree with you about removing Maleficent from Fantasmic. That dragon is THE BEST PART! I would like to see them incorporate both versions somehow in WDW.

  2. I frankly disagree with this being a ‘good’ film, let alone a worthy heir to the original. I elaborated on my reasons in my own blog on here, but basically apart from the title character, the motivations were one dimensional, the writing was lacking, and the approach to offering a sympathetic angle to the character as they present it doesn’t rightly work, making no attempt to reconcile with the fact its predecessor exists with regards to the character’s nature, an immense fallacy with a villain who’s primary draw is their logical ambiguity in the why to their utter lack of moral character.

    • But…they weren’t making a film using the original content. They even say “You heard the tale, now hear the truth” as one of their bylines.

      The motivations in this film would be as one dimensional as the animated. In the origional, “bad person do bad thing to good person. Good person gets saved by good person prince..”, etc.

      I feel they hit it on the money with making the viewers empathize with Maleficent. How they showed her as a young girl, and trusting Stefan. The eventual betrayal of Stefan. When she woke and found her wings had been cut off…that mourning scream Jolie let out was haunting! Also when Aurora was laying in the bed and Maleficent was apologizing to her as she regretted her actions…that was touching.

      I think any negativity to this movie will be due to it not following the original(exactly) and that is a shame. It was a great “re-telling” of a classic story.

      I stand behind my assessment – people should see this.

      • That’s extremely presumptive, as if you had read my piece on it you’d have noticed I outlined how I felt it should have been done, and still have worked. Even beyond my own take, a large amount of the critical reception I’ve seen tends to point to Stefan as the primary problem of the film; Jolie and the title character, generally are the points they whole heartily are praising. Because the role and alignment of the traditionally primary antagonist in the story has been switched, something of a hole is created and, in the need to demonstrate this changing of morals, someone else must then be made to step up and fill in said gap, as well as act as a worthy foil, and in the eyes of the audience such an individual should be on par with the traditional antagonist. Maleficent in the original was, on the surface, a bit one dimensional as you say; that sort of I’m evil and I do evil things to you. What lent depth to her, however, was the lucid nature of her motivation. Outwardly, the only thing that seemed to have motivated her was she was spurned an invite to a birthday party, which seems a silly and obtuse reason for evil. Yet her behavior and sheer delight in executing these wicked acts is so flamboyant, over the top, and simply entertaining, the audience is led to suspect there has to be more to her reasoning, offering an air of mystery to the character that seems to have a captivating effect (ergo why she is so often at the top of disney villain lists, and without such appeal this film would never have been made.) Stefan’s motivation, on the other hand, is one dimensional in that there’s not much reason to it, other then he’s a manipulative dick. It also lacks the eccentricity and overconfident genius the original Maleficent had. Compare it to another manipulative dick, Iago of Shakespeare fame, who has definition to his motivation in that he hates Othello for spurning him his promotion, as well as some likely underscored racism. At no point does Iago ever loses his head as his plot unfolds, instead he carefully guides both the audience and his victims, with only the former in on game, as he carefully navigates the maze of his own deception and deceit. With Stefan it felt more like “Obligatory power grab! Oh wait it’s increasingly not going my way, thus I’ll begin to flail about in a similarly increasing manner like a witless fool until I meet my end.” (And if you doubt his foolishness…he throws Aurora to the three stooges with fairy wings who know next to nothing about child raising, then tells them to hide her away until she’s sixteen only to have the person they’re supposed to hide her from find her a few frames later.) There’s no charm or mystery to it, no method to his madness, he simply goes mad and appears the fool for it.

  3. It’s so weird. I keep hearing two sides to this movie. One is it’s great, the other is its not so great. LOL. Now I am going to have to go and see it for myself to find out! XD

  4. It’s the off the hook, she does a magnificent job and the creatures and nature spirits are awesome as well…

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