HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:89
Maleficent is one of the oldest and, probably, most loved of all the Disney villains. She’s is exquisitely evil, stately as a queen, cruel as any out there, and just steeped on mystical lore. “Sleeping Beauty” is almost as much a movie about her, as it is about Aurora, as she is a terror like no other, an evil that is starkly contrasted by Aurora and Prince Phillips. Basically a perfect of portrayal of darkness and light. The end sequence where she does battle against Prince Phillip and morphs into the dragon was (and still is in my opinion) one of the greatest animated Disney battles to date. When “Maleficent” was first announced, it was hinted at that this would be a retelling of the tale from Maleficent’s point of view, but upon seeing the film in theaters I realized it was nothing of the sort. Instead, it was a complete deconstruction of the tale, rebuilding it from the ground on up as if “Sleeping Beauty” was a fairy tale, and like all fairy tales, only comparable to the real thing in name only. Such is the case with “Maleficent” as we have the entire universe of “Sleeping Beauty” turned upside and characters remade and redrawn as the director sees fit.
There once was a time when the human world and the moors, where the fay lived, were at war. Humans and fairy folk had an uneasy truce after a while, but neither side truly trusted the other. In this time there was a young fairy, probably the most powerful of them all who lived there, and on the other side of the moor there lived a young peasant boy, named Stefan. These two didn’t have the prejudice of their older peers and thus didn’t have the same enmity. Drawn to each other they slipped away from their respective worlds when they could to spend time with each other. Soon, friendship became something more and this young fairy and Stefan fell in love. As time went on they grew apart as Stefan became enamored with living in the castle as a servant. King Henry decreed that any who came back with the head of this powerful fairy would take the crown upon his death. Corrupted by greed and lust for power, Stefan uses his influence with that fairy to get her to let her guard down, only to shatter her heart into a million pieces by slicing off her wings and taking them to King Henry. Devastated that Stefan could betray her, this young fairies heart became cold as ice, her anger and rage fueled by grief and channeled through magic turning her into a terror that the entire land would know as, Maleficent.
Upon the birth of Aurora, daughter of King Stefan (Sharlto Copley) and Queen Leila (Hannah New), Maleficent (Angelino Jolie) bestows a curse upon the poor girl, proclaiming that on her 16th birthday, Aurora would prick her finger on a magical spinning wheel and fall into a dreamlike death, that could only be broken by true loves kiss (an inside joke, since her heart had been broken, Maleficent believed true love to not exist). Terrified and frantic to make sure Maleficent’s curse would not come true, Stefan sent Aurora off into the forest to be raised by three fairies, until her 16th birthday, where she could return to the castle once the curse had been thwarted. Unbeknownst to the fairies and the king, there was another being watching over the young princess. Maleficent, always in the shadows watched the little girl growing up, slowly, little by little growing with her, changing, shifting and slowly watching her heart thaw. Aurora soon grows into a lovely girl, and not knowing who maleficent is, considers her a fairy godmother. Realizing what she had let herself do, Maleficent tries to undo the curse, only to find out that when she cursed the girl and decreed it a curse that can never be broken, even her own magic couldn't undo what was already done.
Frantic to undo the curse, Maleficent hopes against hope that maybe it won’t come true, maybe Aurora would live out her time away from the city, away from a spinning wheel and once past the due date of the curse, she could live her life freely. All seems to be going well, until the day before her 16th birthday, the three fairies reveal to Aurora just who she really is, and why she’s been kept in the forest for all these years. With her eyes uncovered, Aurora realizes just WHO her fairy godmother is and flees away from everything, straight in to the castle. At that castle, King Stefan has slowly been going insane. Insane with guilt, he’s become warped and paranoid, terrified that Maleficent will come for him. His psyche is so fragile that he’s built a wall of iron (the only thing that can hurt a fairy) and a maze of traps throughout his castle as a protective barrier/trap for the sorceress. Even upon seeing his daughter, he’s not filled with love, but rather brushes her off and keeps on going with his plans of war against the fay. As fate would have it, Aurora, of course, pricks her finger on the spinning wheel and falls into her sleep. Now it’s up to Prince Phillip to come in and hopefully awaken the princes from her time of slumber, which all leads up to an ending that just may surprise you.
I have some very mixed feelings about the movie. When I went in I was completely shocked at the deconstruction of the tale, and left the theater enraged, at what I viewed as a mockery by Disney over what is considered one of the greatest Disney movies of all times. King Stefan is an evil psychopath, the three fairies who raise Aurora are nut jobs, Prince Phillip is largely overlooked and Maleficent is a jilted lover who really wasn’t all that bad. It seemed like an obvious attempt to turn a beloved villain into something that kids could love and turn into a franchise of toys and spinoffs (likely not to happen being that “Maleficent” bombed incredibly at the box office). It felt like they were considering “Sleeping Beauty” a complete lie and that this was a slap in the face. I remember even grumbling for an hour and a half after the movie ended with my wife going “mmhmmm”, “ok honey”, and “calm down dear” for the entirety of my rant. Upon second viewing I have to sing a slightly different tone. I still have conflicting emotions, and have a hard time considering this part of the “Sleeping Beauty” universe, but as a standalone movie it’s actually quite decent. Reboots, and reimagining’s are quite common, and when you have such a close affinity with the original (well, it’s the original to me, even though the fairy tale itself is quite different from the Disney animated film) it’s difficult to be able to separate the two. With a second viewing, I was able to get over the shock of the changes and actually sit back and analyze it as a movie, rather than just rely on my fondness for "Sleeping Beauty". Strangely enough I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I did in the theater, and although there are some things that come off a bit cheesy, and disjointed, it's a charming tale that grows on you with subsequent viewings.
Angelina Jolie was the star of the film, as she threw herself wholeheartedly into the role of Maleficent. Gleefully twisted and warped, she danced around in her black cloak shadowed by her crow minion, Diavel, with incredible gusto. The opening part when she’s a young child was a bit overly sappy, and definitely aimed at young children, but when she hardens her heart and goes pure evil, it’s breathtaking. The recreation of the famous curse scene when Aurora is a babe was the highlight of the entire film, with Maleficent tall, regal and twistedly evil in her bestowing of her “blessing” upon the child. As the film progresses, Elle Fanning takes on the mantel of Aurora and does a decent job as the charming princess and Angelina goes from being a slightly sympathetic, yet evil villain, to witty and dry humored “misunderstood” person. As her heart thaws and becomes more in love with the girl, it becomes obvious that it isn’t exactly a tale told THROUGH Maleficent’s eyes, but a complete reimagining of the story. Stefan is the true villain here, as Sharlto Copley chews his way through the scenery here, playing his typical evil villain role that he’s known for (and actually rather upset that he’s been type cast this way over the years). His role is a bit over the top, and telegraphed a mile away, as we see him start to lose his mind and grow more evil than Maleficent could ever be
Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=31185[/img]“Maleficent” has to be one of the worst transfers I have seen in a long time, showing drab colors, poor compression and……..ok, I can’t even finish that sentence with a straight face. This has to be one of THE most eye candy worth presentations that can match “Transformers: Age of Extinction” blow for blow for just sheer jaw drop worthy beauty. The entire time I was watching I had a hard time keeping the drool from overtaking my chin and almost felt like I had to strap my jaw back in place since it seemed to be creeping all on its own to the floor. Colors literally explode off the screen with one of the brightest and color filled live action movies that Disney has had put out in a VERY long time. The movie is filled with TONS and TONS of beautiful CGI that don’t actually look out of place, but rather blends seamlessly (or ALMOST seamlessly as there are a few times I noticed the blatant CGI) with the live action and creates a rich and wonderfully textured environment. Blacks are sickeningly deep and inky, showing off their prowess without getting too dark and causing a lack of shadow detail. The fine details throughout the film is simply amazeballs, with some of the most incredibly elaborate sets that I have ever seen. You can see the embroidery on King Stephan’s cloaks, the creases and crinkles in maleficent’s head wrappings and even the individual pores on Aurora’s young face. I didn’t detect a single instance of softness or lack of detail once, and with only a 1 hour and 37 minute runtime with minimal extras left plenty of breathing room on the disc for there to be a complete lack of compression issues. Simply flawless.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=31193[/img]This is a day and date Disney release, do I need to say any more? The 7.1 DTS-HD MA track is a work of art, giving us a fantastically immersive track that jobs throbs with detail and a flurry of activity with every passing second. From the moment the film started with the introduction of our hero/villain in their child days you can tell this is a showstopper. Maleficent’s wings flapping in the wind display an incredible amount of sonic detail as you can simultaneously hear the rustling of her individual feathers, combined with the thwapping of her wings beating the air and the ambient noises of the river rushing underneath her all in one intricate pattern. The sound stage is incredibly vast and detailed, with the surrounds never being quiet the entire time. The creaks and crashes of the creepy castle echo hollowly in the listener’s ears and the sounds of battle are filled with throbbing LFE and the cacophony of humans clashing with the supernatural folk. The biggest impression that the 7.1 track left on me was just how intricate and detailed it was, blending all the frequencies together in one single homogeneous mix that just sounds “natural”. The lfe could be soft and tight, being there only with the sounds of the fairy wing beats, to the coming out of nowhere and causing the ground to vibrate and throb with power during the next scene, but never overpowering the other ambient noises going on. It was like a grab bag with me listening intently and marveling at how you can hear each and every creature in the scene all at once without one dominating over the other. Dialogue was spot on perfect and kept well within the balance of the rest of the track. Again, I hate to give perfect scores because I like to keep them for something special, but this truly is something special.
• Deleted Scenes
• Aurora: Becoming a Beauty
• From Fairy Tale to Feature Film
• Building an Epic Battle
• Classic Couture
• "Maleficent" Revealed
As I mentioned, I have mixed feelings about the film. On one hand, I rather liked the tale, it’s a unique twist on the original story, and Angelina truly owns the role. On the other hand, I don’t like the whitewashing of a classic villain and try to make her “good” due to her popularity. One of the reasons you loved to hate Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty” WAS because she was truly evil. She was majestic, she was stately and regal, but her heart was as black and unredeemable as pitch itself, a perfect allegory for true evil, and its foil in the form of Aurora and Prince Phillip. I have a hard time reconciling the white washing of her character in an attempt to make her relatable and desirable to the young ones. Still, I had a much more entertaining time the second go around, as the film is incredibly detailed and does a brilliant job at world building. The audio and view are out of this world and despite the lack of 3D for a film SHOT in 3D and shown in 3D theatrically (Disney has strangely not released several 3D movies in home video 3D, such as “Frozen” and “Maleficent” in the U.S. for some reason), it is still a beautiful looking disc. Fans of “Sleeping Beauty” may want to rent first, but I honestly do recommend viewing it yourself, as your affinity to the original story will dictate how much you enjoy this little retelling of a classic tale.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Brenton Thwaites
Directed By: Robert Stromberg
Written By: Linda Woolverton, Charles Perrault
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 4th 2014
Buy Maleficent Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch it
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