Living in a society that challenges stereotypes and intolerance, it’s understandable the same mind set would filter into the entertainment world. With an influx of studying the whys and hows of powerful figures in the limelight (see IMBd’s list of stories based on real events), it’s little wonder fictional writers also show their skill at psychoanalyzing their antagonists.
Diving into Maleficent’s past we find a little girl growing up in a world at war, yet with a heart big enough to care for her supposed enemy. The child matures, and as she does, her remarkable display of magical powers is matched by a growing contention from her enemies. When the wicked king (yes, there’s always a wicked someone in these fairy tales) demands Maleficent be murdered, we discover the root of the fairy’s bitterness and cry with her in a heart wrenching scene marvelously played by Angelina Jolie. Imagine weeping for the bad guy!
I found no flaw in the acting which is actually the movie’s greatest strength.
The story has color and magic and lovely characters as well as some dark ones. I grew especially fond of Diaval, the crow played by Sam Riley. The special effects were mostly grandeur, (although I recognized the green torch as the Gogmoth’s ire in Lord of the Rings). In all honesty I tired of the battles. I think if Stromberg had left out a good portion of the fighting, and concentrated on his amazing character development he would have had a more focused film.
Surely one purpose of this movie was to get viewers to understand a repentant villain. Whilst Maleficent was angry and vengeful over her loss, she struggled with her curse as Aurora grew up. This was good. This thinking is a door open to understanding human nature. No more black and white, the entertainment world is teaching youth the two sides to turmoil-that there is a good to bad and a bad to good. That even those with evil intent can have a change of heart.
What threw a monkey wrench into this whole concept for me, however, is the lack of motive the king had for his ill intentions. Stefan’s anger did not keep pace with the depth of Maleficent’s character arc. If indeed Stefan was changing for the worse as the evil fairy was changing for the better, I wanted to see his decline. His actions just didn’t make any sense, thus his character was as stereotyped as the wicked witch of the East.
Even so, Maleficent was an entertaining movie for both children and those who grew up with a special fondness for Sleeping Beauty, fantasy and folklore.