Maleficent is a 2014 American fantasy film directed by Robert Stromberg from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton and stars Angelina Jolie as the eponymous Disney villainess character, along with Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple & Lesley Manville. The film is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story albeit with some changes and told from the perspective of the antagonist, Maleficent. So this isn’t the story that I remember from my childhood where I read this in my big book of Fairy Tales!
So the story goes like this – Maleficent is a young & powerful faerie living in the the Moors, a magical realm bordering a human kingdom. The two kingdoms are hostile to one another, which explains why the creatures of the Moors are frightened when a human boy sneaks in. Maleficent befriends the boy, Stefan and falls in love with him. After she turns 16 she also is kissed for the first time by him but Stefan, urged on to do more with his life, leaves to the castle and works for the king. Many years pass on and a fully grown Maleficent is now the protector of the Moors and faces off against the king’s invading army. She & her creatures battles the human soldiers and she almost has the kind at her mercy but is thwarted by an iron armour – her one weakness as it burns her! Defeated the king retreats back to his castle and is soon on his deathbed and as he has no male heirs, offers his kingdom and his daughter’s hand to the man who can kill Maleficent. Stefan goes to see his former friend and they spend the night renewed in their former love, as he lies and says that he has come to warn her of the king’s intention. Having drugged her Stefan is about to kill her but finds himself unable to do so – instead he used iron shackles to rip out both her large and powerful wings and bring them to the king as proof that he has slain her.
Pleased the dying king has Stefan crowned king of his kingdom and Stefan marries the daughter. When she comes to Maleficent is in agony and anguish and her pain now reflects in her appearance, attire and the forest as well. She frees a raven Diaval using her powers to transform him into a human, back into a bird or any other she creature, and he spies for her. Diaval reports back to her about Stefan being crowned king and his wedding as well as, after a time has passed, that a baby is to be born. As the subjects of the kingdom arrive at the castle to bestow gifts on the new princess, Maleficent too makes her entry curses the newborn princess: on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, which will cause her to fall into a death-like sleep. After Stefan is forced by Maleficent to beg for his daughter, she offers a caveat: the curse can be broken by true love’s kiss. Stefan entrusts his baby with the 3 pixies and has them keep her safe in a cottage outside the castle until her 16th birthday. However Maleficent follows them and monitors the baby growing up. Stefan has all the spinning wheels destroyed and dumped in a large locked room in the castle and has his men hunt to kill Maleficent but she surrounds the Moors with an impenetrable wall of thorns. Maleficent has a brief meeting with the young Aurora, as the child is called, when the kid wanders into the woods but usually she watched the princess from afar.
Slowly she starts to care for the girl and at age 15 Aurora meets Maleficent and states that she thinks of her as her faery godmother as she knows that she has been watching over her all her life. Maleficent no longer wants the curse to befall on the girl having started to lover her and adores her interactions with the Moors creatures so she tries to lift the curse at night but is unable to. Aurora meets Prince Phillip a day before she turns 16 as he gets lost in the Moors and she points out the way to the castle, the two smitten with each other. Maleficent, hoping to avoid the curse, allows the girl to move to the Moors, far away from any spindles. The pixies, however, inadvertently tell Aurora of her parentage and of Maleficent’s true identity, and a furious Aurora runs away to her father. Stefan locks her away but as she turns 16, she is drawn to the room with the broken spinning wheels, one which magically resets itself and she touches it, pricking her finger and falls into a deep sleep. Maleficent has Phillip abducted, hoping his kiss would awaken her as do the pixies but even after he hesitantly kisses her, she does not awaken. Sadden about the young girl’s situation, Maleficent kisses Aurora on the forehead which is the true love’s kiss and the girl awakens. And by that I mean motherly love – sheesh, get your minds outta the gutter!
Aurora forgives Maleficent and they attempt to escape the castle but Stefan and his men surround the faery and using iron shields have her trapped in an iron net. She uses her powers to turn Diaval into a fire breathing dragon and although he kills off many of the soldiers there are too many for him to defeat. Aurora finds Maleficent’s wings enclosed in a box and has it set free and they immediately fly back to her and, just before Stefan can stab Maleficent, reattach themselves to her. With her wings back Maleficent overpowers Stefan and carries him onto a tower, but cannot bring herself to kill him, instead declaring their feud over. Stefan attempts once more to kill her, but plummets off the tower to his death. Maleficent has Aurora crowned queen of the human & faery realms, uniting the two kingdoms and bring job back to the Moors as he thorns come down and she has her married to Phillip. The end!
Not bad at all, even though we could have used less CGI creatures than was shown. Everything looks great in this film but geeze – Angelina looks gaunt and so old! Oh well, passage of time and all that. I think everyone could enjoy this film, which made $754 million at the box office on a $180 budget. I give it an 8 outta 10!