Thursday, November 13, 2014

Maleficent DVD and Blu-ray Review

Disney's Maleficent was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on November 4th. I'd been waiting for a chance to watch it, since I didn't see it in theaters, and just based on what I saw in the trailers I knew it was something I wanted to own.

So I bought it. And I have to say, I don't love it. I don't hate it, either. And I don't regret spending the money on it.

Maleficent is the story of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the "villain." It tells the story of how Maleficent became the evil presence that she was in the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty. This time around, Maleficent is actually the good guy, and heroine, and victim. She never really strikes me as evil at all in this story, and I actually liked this version of the tale a lot better than the classic animated one.

Isobelle Molloy plays the young Maleficent. She is happily living in the forest, healing trees and beloved by all the other forest and fairy folk. She meets a young Stefan, and they become fast friends.

Angelina Jolie plays the adult Maleficent. I'm not a big fan - I thought her British accent in the Tomb Raider movies was not that great, and I'm not a big fan of her character acting. But visually, she is absolutely a spot-on live action version of the character from the animated movie. She and the actresses who portray Maleficent at various ages bring the character to life.  I actually empathized with Maleficent as I watched the progress of the character development - from a young fairy girl making a friend to a young fairy woman falling in love, then a fairy queen scorned as her wings were stolen and she set out to get her revenge.

She saves a crow from a trap just as it was about to be beaten to death, and she morphs it into a man. He is confused and momentarily angry at her. She reminds him that she saved his life. He is contrite, and pledges his life and loyalty to her. He says his name is Diaval. She has him spy on the fairies and the infant Aurora, and he leads her to the cabin where they are hiding.

*image copyright Disney

Vivienne Jolie-Pitt was cast as a young Aurora. When we see her in the forest looking up at Maleficent, her hands out, asking to be picked up ("Up! Up!"), I could only imagine how hard it was at that moment for Angelina to NOT be a mommy. Vivienne was cast because she was the only child of that age on set who was not afraid of Angelina Jolie in costume and in character.

Elle Fanning is a teen-aged Aurora, and she is also cast well. So bubbly and unbelievably happy all the time, as per one of the wishes granted to her by one of her three fairy caretakers at her birth. I just wanted to smack that smile off her face a few times because nobody should be that damn happy all the damn time. At the same time, I liked it because it made me feel something for the character.

As Maleficent grows more attached to Aurora she tries to remove the curse, to no avail. She starts to tell Aurora about it but gets interrupted and distracted. Aurora finds out about the curse, and that Maleficent is responsible for it. Then she's not so shiny-happy-people anymore. She runs back to the castle and her father, who is livid that she is back before her birthday. He locks her in her room. But the curse draws Aurora down to an area where broken, burnt spinning wheels are stacked. One repairs itself, and she pricks her finger. Maleficent finds her and floats her back to her room.

Prince Phillip seemed to be an afterthought - like the producers and writers went "Hmmm... we're forgetting something... oh yeah, the dude!!!" There are only a couple of brief scenes with him in them, and the way this version of the story is told, it would have been fine to leave him out completely. Nobody would have noticed he was missing. Maleficent and Diaval put the prince under a spell and float him to the castle in the hopes that he will be her true love, and that his kiss will break the curse. They dump him in front of Aurora's door, and wait. The three fairies that were taking care of her drag him into the room, and he wakes up very confused. The fairies badger him into kissing Aurora, but it doesn't work. Meanwhile, Maleficent has slipped unnoticed into the room. When the kiss from the prince doesn't work, the fairies throw Phillip out, and they leave the room. Maleficent vows to protect Aurora for as long as she lives, then kisses her on the forehead. Aurora awakes. True love's kiss. Hmm... I remember this... Oh yeah! This was in Frozen!

I was disappointed that there was no transition to a dragon for Maleficent in this movie. That was one of my favorite scenes in the classic movie, and my favorite line was "Now shall you deal with me, o prince... and all the powers of hell!" Disappointingly, she turns Diaval into the dragon instead, and they both end up being subdued by the king's guards. I couldn't resist yelling at the screen. "See?! You should have just done it your damn self!!!"

If you haven't seen this yet and are planning to do so, I won't spoil it by giving away the ending - as awesome as it made me feel about Aurora (I raised my fists in victory when she made a good choice based on what she discovered), it is pretty predictable.

I had heard from people I know that this movie was "AWESOME!!!" and "ah - MAYYY-ziiiinggg!" I wouldn't go quite that far, but it was a fun ride. Maybe not an E-ticket, but still a fun ride.

Raven is an avid Disney fan and cosplayer.

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