Monday, June 2, 2014

Movie review: "Maleficent"

Disney's latest movie "Maleficent" was at the top of this weekend's box office; it also set a new record  for Angelina Jolie as it became her biggest opening (over $70 million) since Kung Fu Panda's voice over.
I will admit I went in without much expectations; the trailers did catch my attention but I wouldn't say this movie was a "must see" for me.  I am not a big fan of Angelina Jolie (I think she's just an ok actress) and out of all Disney classics, "Sleeping Beauty" is probably the least appealing to me; also I am not entirely familiar with the story behind Maleficent so I didn't know (and still don't know) the ins and outs of this particular character.
With that said, I do know that Sleeping Beauty's name is Aurora and that she falls asleep after a curse, is then kissed by prince Philip and wakes up from her deep sleep... enough information, right?  ;)
Now comes my take on "Maleficent".... wow!
Angelina Jolie does a great job at portraying the hero turned villain, turned hero again, who has very valid reasons for her evilness.  The relationship between her character and Aurora is so sweet and they are able to transfer their genuine connection to the audience.  Elle Fanning looks very sweet and innocent as 16 year old Aurora and she has the most beautiful smile and facial expressions. The scenery of the movie is also beautiful and the action sequences were made to perfection; I also really enjoyed the movie's narration and the fact that it provided enough story background for those who are not entirely familiar with this particular fairy tale and it was interesting enough to keep everyone engaged in the story line. I liked that the movie wasn't all "dark" and there was a good balance between the ugly looking jungle and the flowery paradise that all princesses live in.
Even though the script fell flat at times (very few moments!), I believe the movie has an incredible and very powerful message. It describes the concept of good and evil in every human and it supports the theory that human greed only brings suffering and misery.  The story also delves into the idea that no matter what, good always prevails and true love is the most pure feeling that anyone can experience, and it is a healing emotion that can change even the most evil being. The story plays with important notions such as love, revenge, confusion, compassion, sensibility, greed, power, loyalty and forgiveness among a few others.
I particularly enjoyed that even though the script deviates a little bit from the original "Sleeping Beauty" story (I won't say exactly how since I don't want to spoil it for anyone), the result is great and very powerful, turning this movie into a "feel good" kind of film that is appealing to every audience.
I will add that the PG rating remains appropriate; Olivia went with us (her first ever PG rated movie!) and she really enjoyed it, even though she seemed confused at times, sporadic and very brief clarifications were enough for her to "get it" and I'm glad I took her (Gaby didn't go this time).
I will give this one 4 out of 4 stars.  I strongly recommend it; if it isn't for the fairy tale aspect of it, at least watch it for the powerful message and great acting.
Way to go, Disney! :)

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