Maybe not so Maleficent after all…

Growing up, I watched a lot of films from Disney Animation studios that have long been considered classics.  While Lion King stands head and shoulders above the rest of the Pride, Scar was never my favorite villain (most of whom I didn’t like).  No that honor wants went to another character from a much older film, a villain who long lived up to her name: Maleficent.

You can imagine my delight when word began leaking a few years ago that Disney was going to make a live-action film centered on this character. It hadn’t really been done before on film (just on stage in the form of Wicked) and it was going to feature my favorite villain; it would have been hard to build a Disney story around Chernobog from Fantasia, even though I love Night on Bald Mountain.  The casting news of who would play the title character also fit the bill (and may become a defining role for Jolie, more than Tomb Raider ever did).

As often happens though, with things hyped, disappointment results.  While the look of the film was beautiful, stellar, and stunning – I haven’t seen something this visual since Avatar – and the casting of the title character is what kept you in the chair, the story just fell flat when it could have been so much more.  Just a few minutes in I had the film’s plot figured and found myself hoping against hope that this would not be Wicked on the silver screen.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a confident expectation and my wishful thinking was dashed as I watched the story be turned on it it’s horns just as Oz was.

While the big twist to the film was respectable, it could have been done far better.  There was no real sacrifice,  therefore character redemption wasn’t as prominent as it could -or should – have been.  In one sense it’s as if there was little need for any sort of redemptive thread because the villains actions are considered justified.  Yet it could be argued that redemption DID occur, by way of a character innocent of the films motivations and machinations and subsequent reaction to that character.

The final scenes re-enforced that the world inhabited by the classic story of Aroura and Maleficent had gone topsy-turvy  and departed from the previous telling in spades (granted I appreciated that Phillip was not given accolades this time around).  Nevertheless, the wrong dragon died to bring you this film.  Simply put, there is another villain who’s name begins with M that had a movie this simmer – and is also Disney property – that has been treated far better in film than the Sleeping Beauty Sorceress of Evil ever will.  Harkening back to the past during days of a future time didn’t work out for this Disney villainess as I’d hoped it would.  It’s a fairy-tale for the 21st Century, full of blurred lines.

If I want movies with clearly defined heroes and villains (or at least ones I want to care about) I’ll have to settle for tales of mutants and giant other-worldly robots.  Fortunately I’m getting both this summer!

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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