Director: Robert Stromberg
Genre: Adventure, Family
Running Time: 97 minutes
Sleeping Beauty is a fairytale many know well. It is a Brothers Grimm story turned Disney movie that has been around for some time and tells of a time in which an evil fairy arrived at a christening of a young princess, Aurora, daughter of King Stefan and Queen Leah, angry that she had not been invited. The angry fairy cursed the young princess out of spite and it was fated for the princess at the age of 16, to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep for all eternity. Aurora’s only hope would be for a young prince to kiss her and awaken her from her slumber, else she would forever be cursed in this fashion.
That infamous fairy is Maleficent and we’ve always known her as dark and evil in this fairytale. Yet there is more to the story, at least that’s what we’re now told in this new live-action release of the classic tale starring the perfectly fitting Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, Elle Fanning as Aurora, Sharlto Copley as King Stefan, and Sam Riley as Diaval (the crow who is Maleficent’s right-hand assistant and gopher), among others.
This film is more than a retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty story; it is told from a completely new perspective, one in which we get to see Maleficent as a young fairy and learn who she was before she turned “evil”. She lived in a land among those called Moors, a fantastical place where all creatures (flying fish, large and small fairies, gnome-like beings) lived in peace, with an understanding that there was a clear separation between human and Moor. Maleficent was a protector of this land and it is when she is betrayed that we learn how she became the malevolent being we’ve come to know.
There are numerous intentional variations between this film and the 1959 Sleeping Beauty classic; one of which is that Maleficent, while bitter and dark, still has a softer side to her that we get to glimpse. Maleficent is an interesting character, even from the classic tale as one could wonder why she was so upset that she cursed a child simply due to lack of an invite (historically so because the king and queen simply weren’t aware she was still around). This rendering gave a more concrete reason as to why she was so enraged.
The execution of this film was done well and Angelina Jolie a superb fit for the role. A few missteps however, one of them being Copley’s role as a crazed King Stefan (another alteration from the original Disney movie). We know this actor from his roles in District 9 and Elysium and although he appears to be a solid actor, he was not convincing nor I believe, a good fit as a grudge driven, vengeance seeking and intimidating, powerful father.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie; visually it was stunning and it is one movie I insist you see in theaters and preferably in 3D. There are a few sequences so captivating yet so dark and thunderous, my heart started racing. All around, I’d give this a 7 out of 10.
To also give you more to look forward to, a live-action Cinderella is set for release in 2015. Disney is keeping them coming; let’s hope for more goodness, with not straying too far from the original yet providing a fresh portrayal and execution.
Go see it now and return to share your thoughts!
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