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‘Maleficent’ Is Not Your Mother’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’

by on June 14, 2014
Positives

Positive female role models. Angelina Jolie. Excellent SFX.

Negatives

Negates most of the original Sleeping Beauty. A couple of performances are sub-par.

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Definitely worth going to see for women and men, an excellent light fantasy adventure.

 

Have you ever heard of the Bechdel test? It’s a test applied to movies. There are three requirements that a film must meet in order to pass the Bechdel test :
1. It has to have at least two women in it,
2. who talk to each other,
3. about something besides a man.
A surprising amount of popular movies fail this test. Star Wars, The Lord Of The Rings, The Avengers, just to name a few. Sadly, the film industry is still a male dominated world. Occasionally a movie with a strong female presence manages to slip through the studio cracks, sometimes it’s not even a weepy drama. Maleficent not only passes the Bechdel test, but it does so without ever crossing over into “chick flick” territory. Yes guys, it’s safe to take your girlfriend to see this movie, you’ll enjoy it as much as her.
Maleficent is a beautiful looking dark fantasy film that takes the premise of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and turns it on it’s head. Maleficent is a fairy living in a land only known as The Moors Unlike the other fairy’s she has a pair of large horns protruding from her head and a giant set of black feathered wings.Maleficent01 One day a human named Stefan from a neighboring kingdom stumbles into the Moors He and Maleficent meet, fall in love and live happily ever after. Not really, he betrays her in horrifying fashion in order to win a dying kings favor in hopes of replacing him. This in turn causes Maleficent to lose it and starts her down the path to the Villainess we know and love from Sleeping Beauty.

They could be twins!

They could be twins!

Stefan’s wife eventually gives birth to a baby girl and we all know what happens next. Curse, Spinning wheel,turn 16, prick finger, go sleepy.
The movie starts to deviate from Sleeping Beauty when Aurora goes to live with the three fairies until after her 16th birthday. The fairies are woefully incompetent when it comes to raising a human children and maleficent ends up having to secretly raise her from the shadows. As Maleficent grows to love Aurora through the years she tries to take back the curse she placed upon her but to no avail. Along the way there are sword fights, magical creatures (including some tree creatures that look like they could take down the ents from Lord Of The Rings) and even a dragon.
The effects look wonderful, the cinematography is beautiful, it’s just a really good looking film. Angelina Jolie knocks it out of the park as Maleficent. She perfectly embodies the character from Sleeping Beauty right down to cheek bones sharp enough to slit your wrists with.

Brad Pitt sliced the tip of his middle finger off stroking Angelina's face.

Brad Pitt sliced the tip of his middle finger off stroking Angelina’s face.

All the other actors range from fair to downright horrible in the case of Sharlto Copely as Stefan. The role could have been filled with any number of other actors and the results would be significantly more successful. Fans of the Harry Potter films may have a hard time accepting Imelda Staunton as anything other than the evil, sadistic Dolores Umbridge and she doesn’t help her case by playing a highly unlikable ditz of a fairy.
If you’re a diehard fan of Sleeping Beauty you may take issue with all the ways that Maleficent retcons events from the original film. In all honesty though, Maleficent may be the better picture. As blasphemous as it is to question any Disney “Classic” it’s easy to see how Sleeping Beauty is a misogynistic throw back to an age before gender equality. Sleeping beauty’s message when boiled down to it’s essence is, “Every girl needs a man to save her”. Maleficent on the other hand showcases two strong female characters who essentially save each other. Not to spoil anything but Aurora awakens from her slumber under slightly different circumstances this time around and it works wonderfully.
Maleficent is the kind of movie that I would want my daughter to watch if I had one. It’s one Disney movie where the heroine has more in common with Ellen Ripley than Snow White. Guys, show that you’re not afraid to go see a movie with a kick ass female protagonist. If this film is successful across all demographics, maybe we wont need the Bechdel test anymore.