After years of waiting for this movie to finally come out–years of hearing whispers and rumours and teasers as to what the flick would encompass–the day finally came. So you can bet your ass that after two years of waiting and imagining, I was there on opening night (though not without assigned seating, as per my friend’s request).
A funny thing happens to you when you are anticipating the release of a movie for so long. You begin to build up these expectations and preconceptions of how the movie will go, especially if you’re going in excited about the movie based on other work that the film’s writer or director has done, as was the case for Maleficent and I.
When the film was semi-announced two years ago and the writer was to be Linda Woolverton (the same writer who created the masterpiece that is the 2010 Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland), I just sort of expected Maleficent to have the same dark and quirky appeal that made Alice so fantastic in my eyes (though I suppose I shouldn’t have because Woolverton also wrote other cutesy animated fan-favourites like The Lion King, Mulan and Beauty and the Beast). Unfortunately, while it was a visually stunning movie and the casting was definitely well done, it certainly fell on the more Disney, kid-friendly side than the darker, edgier side. I mean, I wouldn’t go take a four-year-old to see this (though some parent in the theatre thought it was okay), but it really does lack that darkness I was so so so hoping for.
However, that’s not to say it wasn’t a good movie. As I said, the casting was perfect. For someone who loathes Angelina Jolie, I couldn’t have picked a better Maleficent. Apart from those magnificent cheekbones (and her killer Louboutin mani–I’d love to talk to the makeup artist from this flick), she has a very villainous coy air to her that just really works for the villain in question. Maleficent delves into the back story of how she got so angry in the first place, of course showing a fairy scorned by the man she thought was her true love and let me just warn you: You probably should not break Jolie’s heart. She plays scorned all too well. Especially when she has magic.
As for the supporting cast, Elle Fanning as Aurora was as dainty, feminine and adorably innocent as you can imagine. She portrayed the Disney princess to a T and had that bubbly friend-to-the-animals quality that is so synonymous with her regal variety. Sam Riley played Diaval, the spell-cast-crow that could turn human (or dragon, depending on his mistress’ mood), and his (human) form softened tough Maleficent. The affable nitwits who were the pixies (meant to be Flora, Fauna and Merryweather in the animated version we love) were silly almost to the point of obnoxious, really just furthering the “cute” aspect of the movie.
They did manage to work in some of those nuances and allusions from the original animated classic that always make me happy. Little things like the crow (even the way Maleficent petted the perched Diaval on her scepter), the thorns–and even the green light that brings Aurora to the spinning wheel–were well placed. Ultimately, though, I just couldn’t get past the cute factor–I really did want it to be a lot darker than it was. Even the end (I won’t spoil it because you should still see it in spite of this review) was sweet and endearing almost to the point of cheesy. But alas, that’s what happens when you have expectations of something. Excuse me while I go relive the delightfully peculiar Alice again and again until Through the Looking Glass comes out in 2016.