Maleficent is arguably the most fascinating Disney villain to date. There’s something utterly, dare I say, bewitching about her razor-sharp cheekbones, the billowing black cape, that pitch-perfect villainess voice and of course, those horns.
Thus it seems fitting that on the 55th anniversary of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, that they would want to reimagine this story from the perspective of one of the greatest unexplored Disney characters to date.
Robert Stromberg makes his directorial debut telling this classic story from the antagonist’s perspective with a large emphasis on why she is so evil; why her heart has been turned to stone and the reason she feels compelled to wreak such havoc.
Angelina Jolie proves to be the perfect Maleficent. Her deliciously evil British accent is everything an audience could hope to hear from such an iconic villain and Jolie manages to develop the character from a monstrous woman consumed by a desire for revenge into an innocent, regretful and justice seeking heroine.
Therein lies the main strength of Stromberg’s retelling of this classic story; ‘Maleficent’ elegantly reminds its audience that life is not as simple as black/white and villains/heroes. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton does a superb job of revamping this originally fairly misogynistic, simple tale of jealousy into something more honest and realistic. Most often there is an explanation for why people behave a certain way and more often than not there is more to a person than we anticipate; these messages are presented to its younger audience so remarkably that parents will be delighted to take their children to this.
Of course, there is very little realistic in terms of this story’s settings and the events that take place in the film but the scenery is undeniably beautiful. Stromberg who has previously worked as a special effects artist for films such as ‘Life of Pi’ and has won two oscars for Best Art Direction for working on ‘Avatar’ and ‘Alice In Wonderland’, proves that he knows how to make a fantasy film look awe-inspiring.
A mature tale for younger audiences, Maleficent is a wonderful fantasy film brought to life by equally sumptuous performances from Elle Fanning and Jolie that eventually, the distinction between which of them is the princess and which is the villainess becomes entirely blurred.