I’m giving Disney’s newest installment on the Sleeping Beauty Story, Maleficent, 4 out of 5 stars. By far, this movie exceeded my expectations, but there was just one thing missing that I wish all versions of Sleeping Beauty touched on that was just absent in this.
From a writing perspective, the film has phenomenal rising action. My interest never waned and I waited, anxiously I might add, for each progressive scene. The new twists, turns, and changes to the original presentation are creative and beautifully integrated into the story.
From the trailers, I assumed I would be watching Wicked: Maleficent’s Story, but Disney went right ahead and fooled me and got me right in the nostalgia. There are a plethora of throwbacks to the 1959 animated film which include the infamous shadow on the wall and Maleficent’s pet Raven (who now has a name: Diaval)
Here’s the new story-you know full well that spoilers happen below the read more line:
Maleficent and King Stefan were friends when they were younger, and, as is usually the case, they later fell in love. On Maleficent’s 16th birthday, Stefan finally kissed her with true love’s kiss. Then they parted ways for a while and each grew into their self. Maleficent became protector of the moors; Stefan became a psycho and ripped Maleficent’s wings from her body in order to become king.
What I enjoyed most about this redux of Sleeping Beauty is that there was motive and justification for all actions. Many times when we see a film, or read book, the villain is a villain for the sake of being a villain. In this movie, Maleficent has been betrayed, and essentially date raped (you will understand when you see the film) and had part of her body removed. I’d say that’s a pretty good reason to curse someone’s child. Stefan… well, it is a motive… not one that I would accept on a personal level, but that’s not my point here… Stefan wants to become king, to change his position in life. The old king declares that whoever vanquishes Maleficent will be the successor to the thrown. Stefan could have killed Maleficent, but instead chose to take her wings and allow her to live.
I can’t say too much else on the plot line or you won’t need to go watch the movie.
Let’s talk about the characters’ new names. Aurora, Stefan, Phillip, and Maleficent are the same but the fairies and the Raven have new ones. Any fan of the animated film will remember Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, the red, green, and blue faeries who care for Aurora while she grows up. I prefer their new names Knotgrass, Thistletwit, and Flittle (respectively) because they sound significantly more earthy and faery-like–instead of–well–scientific and Latin.
The raven, as I mentioned earlier, also has a new name, Diaval, and is transformed into many different shapes and sizes. It was a nice touch on Disney’s part to add in the forming of this iconic relationship.
The climax of the story moved too quickly for me, which is where Maleficent lost a star. Aurora gets back to the castle, the curse takes effect and she pricks her finger, Phillip kisses her and so on, then there’s the new ending of the story and the credits roll. I feel, however, that the well-written redux deserves your time and effort.
And what is the one thing I find missing from all renditions? If you have read the original work by Charles Perrault, you would know that Aurora sleeps for 100 years. I think Disney could have had a lot of fun aging the castle, at the very least. In this adaptation, Aurora was asleep for a mere 5 minutes before Phillip showed up at the door.
But like I said, the climax should have been longer.