Jun 6, 2014

Posted by in Movies, Review | 0 Comments

Maleficent succeeded where Frozen failed [review]

Maleficent succeeded where Frozen failed [review]

[usr 4,5] *** this review contains spoilers ***

When Maleficent was announced I was very curious about this Sleeping Beauty spin-off.  I’ve always been very fond of the Disney Classic animation film. Although the characters were still somewhat flat in that time, the animation had gorgeous backgrounds and a great atmosphere. The idea of Angelina Jolie as a live action Malificent had actually crossed my mind, because of her obvious ‘cold beauty’. She possesses the kind of taut, porcelain doll-like beauty that has the potential to invoke awe in the audience. It’s a bit like Charlize Theron was unnaturally well fit to play the evil stepmother in Snow White and the Huntsman. Angelina Jolie actually playing Maleficent was quite intriguing. So, naturally, with these high expectations – that a pretentious review from Empire was unable to crush – I had to watch the movie on big screen.

But besides the brilliant performance of Angelina Jolie (not that I’m a particular fan of hers but I am for this part), the movie had an amazing atmosphere and a great storyline. It had well-developed characters that you cared about. Even the evil king invoked a kind of sadness upon his ‘fall’. Little Vivienne and Elle Fanning were both really charming as Aurora. In Maleficent the great story elements from Sleeping Beauty were either subtly referred to or just emulated. The fantastic backgrounds and design of the animation were translated into stunning visuals.

If you have seen Frozen already – if you haven’t, don’t bother jumping on the hysteric bandwagon, just ‘Let it Go’ – the ending might be a bit predictable. Regardless which movie came up with the idea first, it really worked in Maleficent. The most (in)famous of villains actually become the kind of redeemed heroin that you really feel for as an audience.

Maleficent vs. Frozen

Seriously, I am baffled that a movie like Frozen gets so many hysteric fans – who obviously cannot ‘Let it Go’, not even years after its release, oh p-lease – while this movie gets such ‘meh’ reviews. While Frozen obviously suffered from a sloppy and chaotic storyline and ‘in-credible’ character development, Maleficent portrays deep and credible characters. The cold-hearted Maleficent actually takes more responsibility and becomes more loveable than that selfish teenage-brat Elsa, who leaves her kingdom to rot to play around with her ice cube magic. She goes through a very credible emotional journey that makes you sympathize with her and understand her fall to darkness. King Stefan’s betrayal is so heart-breaking it actually makes you support Maleficent during her famous cursing scene. You watch her tragic thirst for revenge with sadness and you cheer at her happy ending.

Without bluntly wanting to copy Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is a wonderful spin-off with its own original twists (that are now officially less original since I’ve spoiled them). Transforming bird boy was a very nice addition to the character list. I also like what they did with the 3 clumsy and arrogant fighting fairies. And they had the guts to make Aurora and Filip look and sound like the teenagers they are, which was even an improvement compared to the granny-voiced Aurora from the fifties. Iconic scenes like the cursing scene, the finger-pricking scene, the birthday cake mess… were more awesome than I could have hoped for. And the finale was sublime!

This alternative take on Sleeping Beauty is well worth seeing (preferably on big screen). The musical score by James Newton Howard is just wonderful and adds a lot to the sublime atmosphere. It’s emotional impact even transcends the classic animation’s.

Do you want to know what Clark Kent without Glasses thought of this movie?

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