Maleficent (2014)
May 30, 2014 7:13 PM - Subscribe

A vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.
posted by mathowie (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I went to see this move in 3D because it was the movie that was playing at the town movie theater and a bunch of friends were going. Hadn't thought much about it and have a general distaste for Disney movies generally. Was surprised and interested in this, both with the hero that is sort of a villain but also the way they dragged up some of the briar rose imagery (bizarre hypertext version of this was one of the first "books" I read online. I recommend the print version, it's great).

That said, there were a bunch of times I was watching this sort of silently pleading "Oh god please don't get tropey and awful about this...." Since I knew it was a kids' movie I figured they wouldn't do the whole "And then she wakes up when the prince rapes her" part of the bit but I was also hoping that there wouldn't be some super-schmaltz dating scenario with Aurora and the prince, or that there wouldn't be one final longing look between Maleficent and the king. The CGI seemed really smooth, like it was in service to the movie and not the point of the movie. Except the CGI fairies, they sort of weirded me out and I didn't like them as characters generally.

I was confused at the end where they talked about Maleficent "taking off her crown" because I didn't quite get that she had one (I mean I know her hair was covered but whatever) so I feel like I missed something early on.

Fun side point: when the king falls to his death, an ambulance was going by right outside (small theater) and everyone in the theater started laughing.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow, I did not go into this film expecting to like it, but I sort of really loved it and can't wait to see it again. It quite solidly passes the Bechdel test, and Angelina was super fun to watch, especially when she was flying—there was such a sense of power and joy to those scenes.

The story was far more engaging than the 1959 Disney crapfest, for sure, and it wasn't a boring musical, which was awesome.

But the best part was that the "true love" component had nothing to do with a princely dude who would whisk Aurora away to his castle and complete her. *barf* The true love story was way cooler and felt more authentic than that.

Oh, and I also saw it in 3D (IMAX), but I can't comment much on the effects, as I only see out of one eye, so what do I know? But YAY!! for the new 3D technology that allows me to watch a clear, sharp film along with my freakish, two-eyed friends.
posted by heyho at 10:15 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this movie a lot -- not as much as I would have if it had not featured the kid behind me who was all SCARY TREES I'M SCARED I NEED TO POOP the whole time, but so it is with life.

It seemed to be missing something I can't quite name. Perhaps it wasn't as dark as I thought it would be. I appreciate a certain touch we also saw in Frozen, though, which changed the turn of the fairy tale entirely.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:58 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

It was visually stunning, but you know, I felt like the story was a little piecemeal in a few places. Maleficent gets too evil too fast -- she turns against her fairy friends? For no apparent reason? And along with Jessamyn's point, I was super confused about why they'd make Aurora queen of both kingdoms when the starting premise was "they needed no ruler because they trusted one another."

I feel like they cut a bunch of important narrative transitions in favor of more F/X shots or something.
posted by Andrhia at 8:28 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was super confused about why they'd make Aurora queen of both kingdoms when the starting premise was "they needed no ruler because they trusted one another."

I agree, that really bugged me. The happy ending was that this anarchist utopia turns into a benevolent dictatorship? No.

The section where Maleficent kind of menaces the other denizens of the Moors into subjugation with her scary tree minions was a pretty effective comment on how her darkness and rage affected the other fairies. But ultimately that should have been overturned, and not just by the new queen having a big friendly smile all the time.
posted by misfish at 9:49 PM on May 31, 2014

The happy ending was that this anarchist utopia turns into a benevolent dictatorship?
An alternative point of view is that the utopia will no longer be threatened or invaded by its neighbor because they have the same queen. Keeping in mind that it is, still, a fairy tale.

I'm surprised it didn't seem dark to you, Elena! I spent much of the movie in dread of Maleficent being killed and the "happy ending" being the uniting of the neighbors under Aurora. That dread restored, for me, the power and reward of a happy ending that's been missing from most movies for a long time.

Fiance and me both loved it. I think that having an adoptive mother's kiss be the one to break the curse was great, and I literally didn't realize it was going to be that way until they opened the door and Phillip was standing there like an idiot.

Just in general it was a movie that reached for big emotional levers, and I think it did the work necessary to pull them.
posted by kavasa at 8:14 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed that. I mean, I'd been really looking forward to Angelina Jolie being fierce and badass as shit, but I don't think I was actually expecting a good movie. But it was kind of surprisingly delightful - there was a lot more humour than I'd anticipated, I liked Diaval's take on the long-suffering sidekick a fair bit, I liked that both Maleficent and the King were shown to have been consumed by their rage but that it was still possible to find your way out of it if you open your heart enough. Agreed that it was bizarre that Aurora ended up ruling both countries - what if Aurora's kid turns out to be a total jerk to the fairies? Give me anarchist utopia any day.

It's kind of funny: the same way that Maleficent cursed Aurora in such a way for the curse to be unbreakable, she also cursed her in such a way that she would be doomed to break her own curse. After all, Aurora would grow up to be beloved by all who met her, right? And that, inevitably, included herself. I anticipated the eventual resolution of the curse pretty much from the moment Diaval went to go feed the baby, but I was still delighted that we're sidelining love-at-first-sight traditional romance for familial love more and more. (Also, apart from Diaval's comment, there was no schmaltzy "Oh Aurora I love you so" declaration, which I appreciated.)
posted by Phire at 8:16 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

I liked the idea of the movie more than the actual movie. I agree Maleficent went evil way too quick, it seemed Aurora was only sleeping for one day instead of 100 years like the original Grimm fairy tale.

Mostly, what struck me was how weak the actor doing the King Stefan character was. Given the amazing performances in things like Game of Thrones these days, I expected him to be an imposing king, not a wishy-washy dude.
posted by mathowie at 9:13 PM on June 1, 2014

Yeah he was definitely not a strong character. And the actor who plays him, while amazing, seemed to have some trouble with the Irigsh-ish accent he was doing. I have to say that it was nice to see a bunch of guys with swords and people with armor without worrying who was going to get surprise-beheaded and/or raped (been watching too much GoT and Tudors)
posted by jessamyn at 6:28 AM on June 2, 2014

I thought the movie was missing about 20 minutes of fleshing out the plot and the character motivations. I wanted more depth, though I understand why we didn't get it. It's a fairy tale and a family movie, after all.

As I was walking out, I heard multiple people expressing pleasure that the film's "true love" had nothing to do with romance or a prince, which was indeed my favorite thing about the movie. I basically spent half the movie thinking "yesssssss ~*misandry*~" to myself, because literally all the men were there in service of women's stories, and that was pretty glorious to me.

Also glorious: that Maleficent did not die. I was scared she'd have to sacrifice herself for Aurora, and was very pleased when she didn't.
posted by yasaman at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

I would have liked it if the raven broke the spell. I mean it was neat that fairy godmother did it, but it would have satisfied me more in the 'uniting two kingdoms' bit, and would have been more fairy tale/weird fiction.
posted by Strass at 11:55 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would have liked it if the raven broke the spell.

I was worried that was how it was going to go. Dude was a full-grown bird when Aurora was a newborn and watched her grow up - making him her "true love" is firmly on the creepy side for me.

I was quite pleased with it, on the whole (even though we got to the theater late and had to sit in the front row.) Jolie was the exact right casting choice, and whoever's writing for Disney these days seems to be officially Sick of That Shit and is doing new stuff, which I love.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:05 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

restless_nomad: "I was worried that was how it was going to go. Dude was a full-grown bird when Aurora was a newborn and watched her grow up - making him her "true love" is firmly on the creepy side for me."

Yeah, I've been reading a lot of pulp fantasy lately, in which something like this would be par for the course. Brothers Grimm wouldn't care about the age gap :-P
posted by Strass at 12:53 PM on June 2, 2014

whoever's writing for Disney these days seems to be officially Sick of That Shit and is doing new stuff, which I love.

Yeah, it's great to see them tweak with the formula. We've got Tangled and Frozen and now this playing with the same boring stereotypes. I wonder if they realized they'd sell more tickets by making stories more female-centric? It seems like a good shift and is making for way more interesting stories.
posted by mathowie at 5:16 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

The entire Isotopic Nuclear Family loved this (Stepkid: "It even had explosions for Lil' Thumbscrew!"), but I wound up being kinda indifferent. It was visually stunning, of course, and I did appreciate the Frozen-esque "a man does NOT save the day!" aspect, but as a whole it left me strangely cold. This was oddly disappointing... like making a cake from top-notch organic ingredients and having it taste bland and gummy.

Blackly funny side note: Angelina has the same genetic mutation as me (BRCA1), and has already ungergone the mastectomy that I will someday have. As such, the scene where she wakes up and discovers that her wings have been removed was kiiiiiiiiiiiiiinda uncomfortable for me. After we left the theater, I checked my phone and discovered that Mr. Thumbscrew sent me a text during that exact scene: "Eh, she had WICA1. It was for the best, really."
posted by julthumbscrew at 5:20 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

So this movie's been out a while, is breaking records; the 2D screening was PACKED today, and the audience clapped at the end! That was amazing.

I was surprised at how funny/snarky Jolie was in it.

I have seen the complaints about Stefan around, but I found him totally believable; the seemingly nice guy, whose smallest actions you interpret as Noble Love, who later screws you over when his ass can benefit? I know that guy. And then he got tortured mentally for 16 years and became Macbeth, basically. Was also apparently a shitty king who terrorized his subjects. So if you didn't get much on him being evil before, it's clear that that stuff was in him all along.

I think what a lot of people are not used to is the man's story not being central. We don't get more than hints about Stefan's sad poor childhood and his lust for power, but then this movie is not about him, so it doesn't take the time for that. Welcome to the world of your gender being only secondary characters, guys! Every other movie is pretty much like that for women!

I don't think Maleficent was ever actually "evil". She was warlike when necessary, and depressed, and very very angry, but she didn't torture her subjects, she didn't even banish sunlight from her realm for more than a short time. She was patient with the idiot fairies. She didn't simply stride into the castle and start smiting. Everything about her telegraphed her discomfort with the villain role, because she really wasn't one.
posted by emjaybee at 4:34 PM on June 7, 2014 [8 favorites]

The aftermath of Stefan mutilating Maleficent was somehow worse than seeing the actual mutilation. PG movies can't show that kind of harm in action, but everything after was far, far worse.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:19 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just saw this. Waaah ugly cry!! My friend did have to point out to me that the curse revocation didn't take, cause I was all "but why was she still worried then?!".

Was it just me or was Aurora willingly putting herself through the curse on her birthday?

Thistlewhip didn't get her final wish! Isn't she the one that makes everyone sleep in the other movie? And yeah, I think it was just a day, no one said 100 years.

Dolores Umbridge is a fairy, apparently.
posted by divabat at 9:59 PM on June 21, 2014

Yes; yes, it was odd to see Vera Drake as an oddly proportioned fairy. It freaked me out a bit, I won't lie.
posted by heyho at 8:40 PM on June 22, 2014

I had been avoiding this because of the impression that it was overly heavy and a tad too violent towards woman. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Jolie really stuttering her acting chops along with the lack of traditional romance. The effects and creatures were well done and enchanting, as a fairy tale should be.

Also pleased that this was an origin story of sorts that wasn't terrible. Hollywood seems to have a thing lately for retelling origins and it's getting truly boring. This was refreshing because the origin enhance the original character, while being utterly believable with a sly humor to it. " Ihate you little beastie." hee hee.

I don't think she turned evil too quickly, at all. Her wings were cut off and she very wisely realized why Stefan did it. In one night, her illusions were shattered and it took her a long way to trust and love anyone again.

Aurora being made queen made sense to me as a sign of Maleficent's emotional growth and wish for peace.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 PM on July 10, 2014

Was it just me or was Aurora willingly putting herself through the curse on her birthday?

yeah i think that was magic doing what was necessary to fulfill the curse. it seemed like she was sleepwalking or hypnotized and didn't have full control of her faculties.

watched the movie on the recommendations in this thread, so thanks guys. i'm probably a little gunshy after being disappointed by the recent fairy tale movies (hansel and gretel witchhunter, snow white and the huntsman, alice in wonderland with depp). i spoiled myself with the true love kiss by reading this thread but even knowing the ending i was really impressed by how they handled it.

jolie's acting in general was almost perfect for me. nthing the humor, but i also liked the understatedness of, for example, her conversation with aurora about her wings (which conversation actually moved me more than her primal scream right after wingstealing), her reaction to being accused by aurora of cursing her, and her little speech before she wakes aurora.

the "btw fuck you stefan" twist of the true love kiss addendum to the curse was a nice touch. my friends and i agreed that stefan was maybe the worst part of the movie. but as i was tossing and turning in bed, i thought, well i suppose at the very least his descent into obsession/madness is a good way to explain why the fuck someone would take all the spinning wheels in the land and burn them and lock them in a dungeon. i mean i know the why i just thought it was funny to think about a mad king taking up everyone's spinning wheels. like the TSA and pocket knives.

i could've watched jolie/baby aurora and jolie/diaval all fucking day. best parts of the movie. also diaval's animals were pretty fucking cool, i only wished for a closeup of horse diaval-- he looked a bit feathery, which, if that was the case, a nice reference to his crow form.
posted by twist my arm at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2014

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