Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reviewed: "Maleficent"

From our Contributor Beth Matthews (writing as E. D. Walker), reposted from her blog:

Over the weekend, I went to see Maleficent with two of my girlfriends. Maleficent is basically Disney’s Sleeping Beauty repurposed and told from the POV of the villain, Maleficent. In this version, however, we find out WHY Maleficent decides to curse an innocent baby. The story starts with a war between the human world and the fairy world of which Maleficent is the protector (and she has some bad ass wings to do that protecting).

She’s a strong fighter, but a bit naive. She falls in love with a human man, Stefan, who then exploits her feelings to chop off her wings while she sleeps and thereby claim the human kingdom for himself. Maleficent, in her rage and grief at this betrayal, then shows up years later to curse his newborn daughter. But it all goes wrong when she starts to care about the child Aurora herself.

So…I liked this movie but didn’t love it. The visuals were amazing, especially in fairyland. I thought Angelina Jolie did pretty well, although I think she was better after Maleficent turned “evil.” In the early parts when she was supposed to be innocent and naive it almost seemed like she didn’t know how to play those scenes. Elle Fanning was pleasing but vacant as Aurora, and that character isn’t a character so much as a MacGuffin to drive the plot. Sharlto Copley wasn’t given much to work with as evil King Stefan but I think he did well in the part. Especially as the king descends into paranoid madness, certain that Maleficent is coming for him at any minute. Maleficent’s charming crow henchman Diaval, played by Sam Riley, was easily my favorite character. He stole every scene he was in. Loved him. (He was also the only character who called Maleficent on her shit, which was great. I love when a stern, no-nonsense character has a friend who’s not afraid to talk back to them.)

The story itself felt a little thin and seemed to default to montage when I would have liked a bit more meat to scenes. I suspect at least part of this, though, is that they cut significant portions? I don’t know that for sure, but it just felt like a lot more stuff had been shot than was shown on screen.

OK, so obviously this isn’t one of my fangirl squees. Why am I writing this blog then?

Because you should still see this movie. If you’re a woman or even if you just have a daughter, go see this movie. Because, for once, Hollywood has a girl positive movie out where a woman has agency, where even if she makes a mistake she still gets to redeem herself. Women aren’t used as sexual objects, they aren’t vilified, they aren’t fridged for manpain, they aren’t relegated to the background, they aren’t token characters.

To read the rest of this review and her companion piece "It Doesn't Hurt When I Watch Maleficent: Feminism & Filmmaking", hop over to Beth's blog.....

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