Thursday, June 05, 2014

"Maleficent" doesn't win prizes on originality this time around form Disney

Maleficent” (directed by Robert Stromberg, written by Linda Woolverton for Disney) seems like a bloated 3-D setting of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.  Only one tune from Tchaikowsky’s ballet appears in the score by James Newton Howard. 

Divorced from its literary origin, the concept at the beginning seems rather interesting.  In fact, at the very beginning of the film, the Disney Magic Kingdom castle transforms to Stefan’s, and we’re presented with a world divided into two kingdoms: basically people, and then the innocent forest creatures who can govern themselves (in “The Moors”).  Maybe some planet around the M Star of a nearby Gliese solar system really looks like this (although what if it is tidally locked?) 
The fantasy world doesn’t seem as compelling as that of, say, Tolkien on LOTR, or of Clive Barker’s “Imajica”, were it to get made (which I really think would be a smash if well done).  But the sharp peaked mountains in the forest kingdom do remind one of southern China.
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is, of course, the master fairy, aspirational as a young girl who finds the beginnings of romance with Diaval, who goes back and forth between being a raven and a man, whose chest is horribly scarred.  Better to remain a bird.  Stefan (Sharlto Copley) had once loved her, too, but after his heart hardens as he becomes king, he burns off her wings.  Later, Maleficent will say her wings “were taken from her.”  That’s how adversity in life can work: things are taken from people, and then we think less of them anyway.  The story that follows should be familiar.   Maleficent is not welcome at the baby Aurora’s christening, and she puts a curse on the girl, which results in all spinning wheels in the kingdom being confiscated by the autocratic king or czar (who is a bit like Putin).  Think of that as like confiscating all radios in Nazi Germany.  Three small fairies raise the girl in hiding in a forest cottage. 
Maleficent will eventually be able to say she was able to bring the kingdoms together because she was both good and evil at the same time – read human.  We want to see more of the nice prince Philliip (Brenton Thwaites). 
The official website is here  from Disney. 

Some parents are saying that the film provides an excellemt perspective on the balance of good and evil.

I saw this at the Angelika Moasic in Merrifield VA, in 3D, and curiously the theater has offered the 3D version only during the day.  It was said that it can’t make enough money at night at 3D prices.  How odd. 

Note: the spelling of the name of the character starts with "Male", even though the word "malice" uses an "i".  That fooled me at first.    

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