When Frozen, which is supposed to be a reboot of Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen, was presented as a vanilla tale of special sisters, hope of subversive rides through Fairyland where dutifully laid to rest. And so one approached Maleficent, which is a Sleeping Beauty retelling with zero expectations, except for exceptional production design considering first-time director Robert Stromberg had won an Oscar for his work on Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
That seemed to be the right way to watch the movie as it had exceptional visuals but had nothing much to offer vis-à-vis a retelling. Calling itself a retelling of the 1959 Disney movie from the wicked fairy, Maleficent’s viewpoint, the film starts with the time when Maleficent was a free spirit in the woods. Why she was called Maleficent, which means evil in intent, is never explained. She meets and falls in love with a young human,
Stefan, who is a bit of a cad and betrays her. And Maleficent finally lives up to her name and curses the king, his daughter and the land. Everything comes right for the happily ever after ending.
Incidentally why do all fairy tale reboots have to a have a medieval setting? There is even a corpulent king called Henry. While the setting is medieval with dragons and knights, there are no overtly Christian tropes. And there are irritating detailing issues like Maleficent’s reaction to iron. Sometimes it scalds her and at others, it doesn’t. The adaptation from the Disney movie, is half-hearted so if you are a fan of the sweet little animated film or the fairytale, you might be upset with short shrift given to the source material.
And if you are approaching the film with a clean slate, you might find yourself getting quite bored till the final battle and the dragon’s appearance.
Angelina Jolie looks rather gaunt as Maleficent which maybe thanks to CGI but she definitely doesn’t look like she is having fun. Elle Fanning as princess Aurora is sweet. At 97 minutes Maleficent doesn’t overstay its welcome but neither do you feel like Oliver Twist wanting more.
Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning
Story: Sleeping Beauty reboot
Bottomline: A visual treat while not being particularly subversive