Ever been in such a bad mood that you just have to curse a baby? Nothing else will quench your wrath except that most evil of acts? If so, either you’re a man changing the diaper of someone else’s baby or you’re this nasty lady, last seen in Disney’s classic Sleeping Beauty.
Maleficent tells the untold story of how the title character became an evil witch. Is it a fairy good time, or does it deserve to prick its finger on a spinning wheel and die? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here.)
So who stars in this film? Angelina Jolie plays the lead role; her other films include Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Wanted. Princess Aurora is played by Elle Fanning of Super 8, We Bought a Zoo, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Sharlto Copley is her father, King Stefan; previously, he starred in Elysium, The A-Team, and District 9. Imelda Staunton, probably best known for playing one of my favorite villains in the Harry Potter movies, also appears in this film, although not in the trailer.
The director is Robert Stromberg, who until now has worked mostly in visual effects for movies such as Life of Pi, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and Pan’s Labyrinth. He has not, however, had any experience in directing before. Therefore, we can probably count on a visually impressive film, but not necessarily one that earns Stromberg an award for Best Director.
The trailer begins as Maleficent drops in on the castle and a creepy music box plays “Once upon a Dream” from the original film. “Well, well,” she says, and already I’m convinced that Angelina Jolie is the one and only Maleficent. I am also creeped out beyond all reason. “I shall bestow a gift on the child,” she says as she knocks Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather into a box. Wrap that up and give it to her, would you? But no, her gift, so to speak, is that “Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will fall into a sleep like death!” Thus Maleficent validates every parent’s lie that a movie character isn’t dead, they’re only sleeping.
We cut to many years later, and Aurora is approaching a dark, twisted forest, because that totally looks like a place where no harm will come to her at all. “Curious little beastie,” Maleficent calls her. And if anyone else calls her beast, she’ll rip their lungs out. She turns a guy into a raven and tells him, “Bring her to me.” Then why did you turn him into such a small bird? You should have changed him into an animal that’s actually capable of carrying a young woman. Still, Aurora enters the forest and approaches Maleficent, telling her not to be afraid and to come out of hiding. “Then you’ll be afraid,” the witch tells her. Well, if you didn’t want to scare her with your looks, why did you have the raven guy bring her to you?
“All the other fairies fly. Why don’t you?” Aurora asks. Wait, Maleficent is a fairy? Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper—I mean tall for a fairy? “I had wings once,” says Maleficent, and we see that she does have angel-like wings to go with her horns. I’m so glad they’re not demonizing the character we’re supposed to be rooting for. She tells Aurora that her wings were stolen, apparently by King Stefan. Wait, our Disney princess’s father cut the wings off a fairy? That’s like tearing the wings off a butterfly, man. You don’t do that! “There is evil in this world, hatred and revenge,” says Maleficent as images of fire and war spread across the screen. There’s also apparently a tree that turns into a Balrog. Add this to the list of Lord of the Rings prequel movies. Oh, and yes, Maleficent, there is indeed evil in this world. That laugh you just gave proved it.
As the trailer’s action montage begins, Maleficent uses the force to throw around a bunch of shoulders, Stefan demands her head, and the lines of battle form between the king’s men and more Ent-Balrogs. “I call on those who live in the shadows,” says Maleficent. “Fight with me now!” Actually, since we’re fighting out in the open, could we get some soldiers who are used to bright light and won’t be easily blinded? A giant wooden snake-thing roars, the battle begins, fairies fly, and Stefan puts on his Sauron costume complete with fire background. Seriously, are we watching Maleficent or The Silmarillion? “Is it true?” Aurora asks. “Are you Maleficent?” That probably would have been a good thing to ask earlier, Miss Stranger-Danger. In reply, Maleficent puts a finger to her lips and I CANNOT GET OVER HOW PERFECT SHE IS IN THIS ROLE! Sorry, sorry. Anyway, the trailer ends with a raven turning into a dragon and breathing fire on everyone. He is fire; he is death (okay, last Tolkien-verse reference).
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Yes, yes I do. It’s a beautiful-looking film (although some of the monsters seem a tad bit generic) starring a beautiful and very talented actress in a role that may as well have been made for her. The concept is very intriguing, and I’m interested to see how well the director brings that idea to life. If you’re a fan of Sleeping Beauty, Disney villains, or the musical Wicked, this movie is for you. Will I see it in theaters? Probably not, but I’ll definitely be checking this one out when it comes out on DVD.
Just remember, though, cursing a baby is never okay, no matter how much she drools.
Maleficent is owned by Disney.