I took the kids to see Maleficent, Disney’s newest bit of fluff. Not because I was particularly interested in the movie, but because I wanted to see how many people Angelia Jolie killed with those razor-sharp cheekbones. (Sadly, none.) Thankfully, we opted out of the 3-D movie version or else we might have been cheekbone mincemeat, since we arrived late and had to sit in the second row of the theater.
The movie opens on Maleficent as a young fairy girl, complete with horns and resplendent bird-like wings. We watch as Maleficent zooms through her home, a magical land called the Moors, as she laughs and plays with all the cross-species of Avatar and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. The other fairies are all small with big heads and one even looks like Professor Umbridge, all decked out in pink but without the kittens.
Maleficent is much bigger than the other fairies, so she is the protector of the land. Because they are all magical creatures with no real ambition of their own, there is no king or queen (or ring) to rule them all. Everything is lovely and perfect in The Moors.
Then a human boy comes along and messes it all up. Barn patron Stefan wanders into the Moors, attempting to steal a magical stone and leaves instead with a fairy for a best friend. The two eventually fall in love but, as humans are wont to do, Stefan’s ambitions change and his desire to sit on the throne overshadows his desire for love. Leaving Maleficent behind, Stefan moves into the castle as a worker because apparently all kings-to-be must learn the trade of manservant.
When the king decides to attack the magical lands, Maleficent fights back, injuring him. The king then declares anyone who kills the evil fairy will be next in line for the throne. Manservant Stefan hears this and heads to the Moors. After kicking it old school with his bestie, Stefan drugs Maleficent with a sleeping potion and cuts off her wings. He returns them to the castle where the king declares Stefan as his successor and then dies.
Humiliated and broken by this betrayal and the loss of her wings, Maleficent turns dark and evil, closing off her heart and the Moors. Like all women do when they’ve been scorned by love, she decides to make herself ruler of all the magical lands. If a man can do it, surely a woman can do it better. When she learns Stefan has a daughter, Maleficent shows up at the christening and curses her.
If you’ve seen Disney’s 1959 animated movie Sleeping Beauty or watch ABC’s Once Upon a Time, then you pretty much know the rest of the story. Sure, there are some modifications, such as true love not always coming from where it’s expected, something OUAT has been cramming down our throats for a few years now.
Maleficent does a lot of waiting in this movie. As a child, she waits for Stefan to return to her every day so she can talk to someone other than trees. She waits again for Stefan to return as an adult to rekindle their love. She waits as Aurora grows from a baby ‘beastie’ into a teenager, where, as all parents with teenage daughters can attest, ‘Beastie’ is the perfect nickname.
So, should you go see Maleficent?
Angelina Jolie makes a pretty awesome Maleficent, but I lost interest in the movie. I already knew the story of Aurora and the spinning wheel; I really didn’t need to sit through that again. My interest in Maleficent was piqued, but definitely not satisfied. I wanted to know more of her backstory. Why was she the biggest fairy of them all? What happened to her parents? Why could she never leave the Moors to hang out at Stefan’s barn? Most importantly, why didn’t she ever move her arms while she was flying? (Seriously, I’ve put quite a bit of thought into this one.)
Maleficent is worth watching. As is customary with Disney, the scenery and costumes are gorgeous (watch a few episodes of Once Upon a Time – Regina has some amazing dresses) and the makeup is full of tiny details that add depth to the characters (my favorite being Maleficent’s crow sidekick Diavel in human form, with all of his crow tattoos). Just watch out for those cheekbones – they may yet prove dangerous.