The story is well known to anyone of us. The dark witch Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) launches a terrible curse on Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). On her 16th Birthday, the princess will fall into a sleep like death that can be broken only by a kiss of true love. The plot is very similar to the tale of the sleeping beauty, made immortal by the Disney animation movie of 1956. The difference is that this time that whole matter is told from the point of view of the villain: Maleficent. We come to know her past as a beautiful and lovely fairy who falls in love with king Stefan, future father of Aurora, who, in an act of greed, cuts her beautiful wings and leads her to embrace evil and revenge against humans. At the birth of Aurora, Maleficent reacts like we all know. But afterwards she assists and supports Aurora’s growing and she becomes fond of the little girl, eventually finding a sense of love and redemption.
This attempt to focus on the villain and to give the message that people aren’t born evil, but they become such after some troubles, or unfair happenings, is interesting, and may also give a tone of originality to the whole film. Unfortunately, this final and ambitious goal is shadowed with a primitive and basic script, especially regarding the dialogues that often sound childish, even for a fairy tale kind of story, and risk to turn some scenes into banal and ridiculous narrative bricks.
The only character that deserves to be remembered is Maleficent, who acts at times funny, wicked or simply heartsick due to all the evil she had to pass through in her life. Her evolution and development is indeed well depicted, and builds something that more than an attempt of rehabilitation of a villain is a background spiral exploring themes such as greed, abandonment, forgiveness and capacity to cope with the eternal distinction between good and evil.
…the movie is a product of good entertainment typical for a well-crafted blockbuster…
Besides some predictable twists, and stereotyped situations or characters (like the ambitious king, the innocent but curious princess, the goofy fairies or the controversial witch), the movie is a product of good entertainment typical for a well-crafted blockbuster. It is also evident that the authors were willing to construct a film upon one character in particular and on its interpreter: Angelina Jolie. Maleficent and Jolie are probably the main reason that pushed the entire production to work, and they represent the centre and the propulsive engine without which nothing could work.
The only question that pops up is why all these blockbusters and big productions continue to invest on stories and concepts already seen and digested by a worldwide audience rather than on something more original or brilliant? It is sure that these operations have less risk to fail and that are somehow still nice to spend a couple of hours of pleasure in a movie theatre. It is also true that original products can either hit the scenes becoming great success or stand poorly, and turning into big fiascos.
…it would be nice to dare more and present something that might marvel and astonish an audience…
Nevertheless, sometimes it would be nice to dare more and present something that might marvel and astonish an audience from a different perspective, something not seen before, something with the potential to re-shape the cinematographic art for what it is: a factory of dreams and hopes with an endless creative power.