Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Maleficent ★★★

    Walt Disney was one of the most important minds to ever grace this Earth. Not only was his contribution to animation and magical storytelling substantial, but Walt was the epitome of a successful businessman. His ambition was to bring happiness to everyone so that they could also share in the joy of his creations.

    Today's Disney is vastly different. Much of the same innovative thought and originality has disappeared, and storyboards have lost the allure that once propelled the company through their golden and renaissance periods. Disney has ultimately been reduced to conjuring up stories of old and re-imagining them as if the original had ceased to exist.

    Nevertheless, if there is one thing that has remained in the repertoire of Disney, it is the look of elation brought to children's faces as they experience these remarkable characters for the first time. Of course, this is all that mattered to Walt.

    "Maleficent" is this year's rendition of the classic tale of "Sleeping Beauty." The lead character of Aurora has been relegated and Maleficent, the ever dark and powerful enigma, has been ushered to the forefront. The essential backbone of the story remains the same; however, the point of view has been shifted in favor of the omniscient queen of the Moors.

    A vibrant young fairy named Maleficent oversees the daily activities of all the magical beings in the fair land known as the Moors. Creatures of virtually every size and shape inhabit this beautiful terrain, which borders the world of man. The fateful day that sees a boy enter into this kingdom will change the shape of this world and Maleficent's heart forever.

    Stefan, a peasant born yet ambitious young man, begins an ingenuous relationship with the youthful Maleficent, and they continue to bond over the course of their early lives. Their love for each other climaxes with a "true love's" kiss, in which Stefan bestows upon Maleficent; however, the magic was not to last. Distance grows between them and love is all but forgotten.

    After Stefan betrays Maleficent's trust and becomes king, she transforms into the wicked and evil spirited image seen in the original depiction of this timeless classic. Broken and filled with sorrow, Maleficent is fueled by revenge once she hears of the christening of the newborn princess. A curse is placed upon the infant, Aurora, and Maleficent retreats into the depths of the forest.

    If there was ever a shining star in this production, it would be the performance of Angelina Jolie. And rightfully so. Jolie embodies the character of Maleficent with relative ease and delivers on all accounts. She is as formidable and elegant as one would imagine her to be. She provides an enticing magnetism while fulfilling the menacing characteristics of the original adaption. Jolie is the quintessential actress for this role, and I cannot fathom any other woman who could fill the black dress of Maleficent with such dignity. With cheekbones so indestructible they could seemingly penetrate steel, Jolie not only looks the part but will linger in our hearts forever as the villainous beauty to rule them all.

    The treatment of Maleficent in this film is dissimilar with regard to the original tale and intends to stray from the treachery to give us more of a heartwarming story of redemption. The ill-fated fairy becomes the caretaker of young Aurora, even from a distance, and does not fully believe in the spell once cast to anathematize the innocent princess. That action was performed in haste and Maleficent's true conflict is feelings of disdain that flow from within.

    This is a film that strives for success simply because of the reputation of the story and the brand attached to the production. I was not overly impressed with the special effects as much as I was with the costumes and wardrobe. Other performances are bland and passionless. A climatic ending falls short of admirable.

    If there is one aspect of this picture to revel in, it is the conviction that Maleficent truly deserves the spotlight in which she so humbly seizes in this moment. The added depth to this characterization is believable and encouraging. Additionally, the depiction of man as a paranoid and greed-induced entity has been overemphasized; however, it is still relevant to this day.

    With all of that being said and expressed, there is a much more profound statement that should be scrutinized here. It is blatantly obvious that Disney has altered the interpretation of true love. Beginning with the 2012 film "Brave" and continuing with last year's critically acclaimed "Frozen," Disney has tarnished the bond of man and woman, opting instead for sibling and parental affection.

    Where is the inclination for this unforeseen metamorphosis? Although the above-mentioned perceived ideals are reputable, there is a feeling of emptiness when viewing these peculiar resolutions. Love indeed comes in numerous forms; however, there is a precise difference between unconditional warmth imposed by a parent or sibling and the love of a soul mate. I understand the need to bring a reinvigorated sense of fulfillment to the brand of Disney in the twenty-first century, but this change simply undermines the essence of what Walt Disney began all those years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doug, once again an excellent review, although I'll come at it from a parent's POV on the whole 'love' thing, I'd much sooner teach my kids that there is such a thing as love from everywhere, than just a soulmate. My youngest daughter loves- and I mean loves- Disney and though for a long time she would meet and find her soulmate in a moment, because of Disney (she was four at the time) Out comes Frozen and Brave, and this made an impact in so far she learned that you must do some thinking before falling in love (a la Anna) so for me, I found it as a parent much easier to explain that Love comes with thought and family is needed as are friends.

    On the other hand, as an adult I tend to agree with you- I grew up with Disney- but then again deep down I still want a happily ever after (which I haven't got, but that is another story)