Director: Robert Stromberg
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Based on: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty / the fairy tale
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Sam Riley
When Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was a young fairy, she met a human boy and they became friends – until Stefan (Sharlto Copley) betrayed her in the worst possible way. Bent on revenge, Maleficent curses Stefan’s baby girl Aurora (Elle Fanning). For Aurora’s protection, three fairies (Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple) remove her from her parents’ castle and raise her. But Maleficent herself is never far from Aurora.
I was really looking forward to Maleficent and my expectations were rather high going in. And they were actually surpassed. I absolutely loved Maleficent.
[SPOILERS, also for Frozen]
It is interesting how some ideas just seem to float around a certain area at the same time and suddenly the same things keep popping up, independently from each other. So we got the same twist in this film as in Frozen: true love’s kiss is not a romantic thing, it’s a kiss between women who love each other as sisters or as mother and daughter. And that is a beautiful thing that should happen way more often (generally women who love each other should be seen more often on screen, in every sense of love). I already loved it in Frozen, but I loved it even more in Maleficent, probably because in Maleficent we get to see much more of the character development and more screen time is devoted to Maleficent’s relationship with Aurora (in Frozen it was more Anna and Kristoff).
And that relationship was generally wonderfully done. From Maleficent’s innocent to her rage against Stefan and his betrayal that Aurora is just the catalyst for to Maleficent’s regret and the love she has for Aurora as a person completely independent from Stefan. It was so great that Maleficent got to keep her anger, her cruelty and her dark side – and she was still redeemable.
Angelina Jolie and Elle fanning are both amazing in their roles, as the fairies. I also really liked Sharlto Copley – in fact, I barely recognized him as he has this uncanny ability to melt into his roles. But the center (and rightly so) of the film are the actresses and the complex characters they play.
Apart from that great female-centric and feminist story that is an intelligent adaptation of the original, the film also has nice special effects (Maleficent’s wings in particular) and production design, a great sense of humor, good pacing and Lana Del Rey, so I honestly have nothing to complain about.