TMN Movie Review: "Maleficent"

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rating: PG
Length: 97
Release Date: May 30, 2014
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Genre: Action / Adventure / Family

The line between good and evil is blurred in the 2014 film "Maleficent," a creative retelling of the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty. While Maleficent was always the shadowy villain in on-screen adaptations of Sleeping Beauty, she has been reimagined and recast as the iconic Angelina Jolie. Jolie takes on a very different role, trading in her action hero look for a long and leathery black cowl.

The film begins with Maleficent's idyllic life as a lovely and innocent young girl, much like the girl destined to become her mortal enemy. When an invasion of her peaceful and exquisite kingdom turns her entire world upside down, Maleficent stands up to defend her home. Using her power to fight off the enemy soldiers, Maleficent fights bravely and selflessly. Unfortunately, she is betrayed by the one she trusted most and counted on to protect her. This tragic event warps the naive girl, turning her once pure heart into solid ice.

Left without a home to run to or a friend to turn to, Maleficent is forced to run and hide in the darkness created by her new enemies. When the chance for revenge arises, she returns to the kingdom she once ruled and places a binding curse on the newborn daughter of her greatest foe. Years later, when darkness threatens the kingdom once again, Maleficent is forced to turn to the very girl she cursed to save her kingdom once and for all.

"Maleficent" is truly one of the most unusual adaptations of a fairy tale to hit the big screen, filled with exquisite imagery and heart-pounding thrill rides. Audiences would be well advised to leave any preconceived notions about Maleficent and her story at the door before they see this shocking film. Not only does Disney turn the age-old princess trope on its head, but it also casts its most iconic villain in a completely new and unexpected light. Jolie is so iconic in her role as Maleficent that it will be difficult for any actor in future adaptations to fill her shoes. The main character is both charming and conniving, capable of stirring the most intense emotions on both sides of the spectrum. One moment, she is chilling and calculating as she plans for battle and prepares to make a move to sacrifice others without batting an eye, and the next she is tender and vulnerable, causing audiences to question whether her heart has turned completely to stone after all.

The visual effects in "Maleficent" are second to none, creating a fantasy world that is both realistic and unfathomable. Viewers will find it easy to get drawn in completely nearly as soon as the film begins, especially with the brilliant soundtrack and audio effects. Maleficent's world is painted so vibrantly that it changes with the seasons of her home life. While the film starts out full of vibrant, bright colors, it quickly falls under the shadows of the betrayal and tyranny that cripple Maleficent's heart.

While Jolie certainly takes center stage in the film, any review would be remiss without mentioning Elle Fanning's performance as Aurora. In fact, her character is a major catalyst for the film's events, causing a divide between Maleficent's light and dark sides. Aurora is an innocent and sweet young girl whose angelic blonde hair is the only thing that separates her from a younger Maleficent. Aurora has heard tales of the ghastly queen who lives in the forest, but she is too naive to question the lies of her elders. Aside from that one dark point, the entire world is full of wonder and goodness to Aurora.

It's not until she encounters Maleficent as a complete stranger that she begins to question her own reality. As the dark and mysterious stranger takes her under her wing, Aurora is exposed to ideas she had never before considered. When she discovers her friend's true identity, history repeats itself and betrayal echoes throughout the once peaceful kingdom. Maleficent is forced to determine whether fulfilling her long-time quest for revenge is worth it if it means losing the only person she calls friend and turning her back on the person she was once and for all.

"Maleficent" is an innovative and powerful film that will pleasantly surprise even the most avid Disney fan. The film begins with excitement and intricate storytelling, a pace which it manages to keep up all the way until the shocking end. From the show-stopping performances of Fanning and Jolie to the thrilling battle scenes, "Maleficent" is one summer blockbuster not to be missed.