Movie Review: Maleficent

Ok, I’m well behind the times when it comes to seeing this. That said, I’m well behind the times about seeing anything in the full priced theater, perhaps you are as well.  This weekend Maleficent came out to Redbox.

I was sceptical at first.  The original Sleeping Beauty as imagined by Disney was never my favorite and I’ve found many retold fairy tales lacking. Then again, I loved Ever After and Wicked so let it not be said that I’m overly biased.

I adored Maleficent.

Whoever they found to create and piece the story together to cast Maleficent as a misunderstood and misused magical creature was either a mad genius or made a pact with the devil to get it this good.

Maleficent-(2014)-59Not to mention Angelina Jolie. If there was ever a woman who looked so perfect that she is nearly alien, it’s her.  Wow, there are so many facets to her character that it’s hard to know where to start. [Warning, there be spoilers ahead!]

In this story, Maleficent begins as a carefree and kindhearted fairy of the Moors, a wild and wonderful place filled with all manner of magical creatures. The Moors kingdom has always had a rocky relationship with the adjoining kingdom. She meets Stefan, a peasant boy who wanders into the Moors to find treasure. The two begin a friendship that evolves into what Maleficent believes is true love.

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Stefan (played by Sharlto Copley), as we remember from our Disney of the past, is King and father of Princess Aurora. He has to do some pretty terrible things to become so, including taking from Maleficent the one thing she holds most dear. If you want to know what that is, watch the movie – it’s really horrible. Needless to say, Maleficent is heartbroken, enraged, and willing do anything to make Stefan pay for his betrayal.

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This is where the curse and those silly fairies come in. Aurora is taken from the kingdom to be raised by these truly annoying woman who don’t have a half-a-brain to rub between them. In fact, their incompetence is so severe that it is Maleficent herself that unwittingly begins to look after and care for the child from a distance.

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For me, this is where things get interesting. Enter Diaval played by Sam Riley, the raven Maleficent turns into all sorts of different creatures, including human, to be her spy. The writer in me wants to go into all sorts of detail on why he’s there and why his character is so effective, but I’ll spare you.  He’s awesome, and quite possibly my favorite character.

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Prince Phillip is played by Brenton Thwaites and in this movie he does pretty much nothing than provide some continuity from the original Sleeping Beauty. He’s there for the kiss – but wait, there’s a twist!

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And then, of course, we can’t forget Aurora played by Elle Fanning. As much as Sleeping Beauty is her story, she spends this entire movie being acted upon.  She gets cursed, she gets raised by the idiot fairies and indirectly by Maleficent, she meets Phillip, she pricks her finger, she falls into an endless sleep that doesn’t seem to last more than a few minutes in this movie, and she wakes up and becomes queen.

What makes the last half of the film so interesting is how Maleficent changes from kind and free-spirited to dark and brooding and then back again, and the realizations she has to make to do so. In the process of raising Aurora she discovers the one thing that she thought didn’t exist, the one thing so vital to her life that all that is good disappears when it’s gone and returns when she rediscovers it.  To find out what it is you’ll have to watch the movie.

When the past finds you

This past week a friend of mine posted on Facebook one of those horrible school dance pictures where two young people are posed together and pretend to be thrilled to be together. This picture was no exception. It was my senior year and a junior friend asked me to go to the dance with him.  While we were good friends and had been in the school orchestra together for the past three years, we were definitely not in love with each other.

So, when it came time for the obligatory picture and he was asked to drape his arms around me, he did and I let him, for traditions sake. While the resulting picture isn’t bad there’s no denying the lack of chemistry going on between us. 10298919_10152418402308781_6745686781271152060_n

It didn’t help that my date got food poisoning earlier that evening and spent most of his time being miserable, so in addition to being awkwardly posed, he has the added greenish hue of a bad reaction to cheap pizza.

That was sixteen long years ago. It’s been years since I’ve even thought about that night. Seeing this picture brought back all the awkwardness of high school, the uncertainty, and the desire to do things the “right way.” It’s amazing how insecure I was as a teenager.

On Facebook people commented on how little I had changed over the years.  And on the outside it’s true, minus the few extra wrinkles, the few extra pounds, and shorter hair, I haven’t changed much at all.  On the inside it’s a different story.  I’m a completely different person now than I was then, and the change is for the better. All those trivial insecurities are gone and replaced with problems that actually matter. While don’t like my current trials, I wouldn’t go back to being my teenage me for anything.