Disney’s newest movie, Maleficent, continues the trend of reinventing villains as people who were wronged.
In this telling of the Sleeping Beauty story, Maleficent starts out as an innocent fairy who lives in the Moors, the magical kingdom next door to the kingdom of men. She is shown as a young girl who loves the world around her and is not afraid of the kingdom of men. But her world changes when she meets a young peasant boy named Stefan.
At this first meeting, Stefan tells Maleficent that his goal is to become king. And here we are introduced to the movie's main “villain” ... but more on that later. Stefan and Maleficent grow up as childhood friends, and then grow closer, sharing what they believe to be true love’s kiss.
The movie shifts from their childhood to Maleficent (played by Angelina Jolie) now grown and the protector of the Moors. Stefan has worked his way up to serving in the palace. The conflict heightens when the current king attacks the Moors and Maleficent pushes them back using her own abilities and the creatures of the Moors. The attackers retreat, and the scene changes to a dying king who tells a roomful of his advisers that whoever kills Maleficent will get his throne.
Stefan uses his friendship with Maleficent to get close to her; then he drugs her and cuts off her wings. He presents the wings to the dying king, and is appointed the successor.
The story progresses much like the original tale, but the villain is the greed and pride of man, not Maleficent. Maleficent is only a hurt woman who wants to strike back at those who hurt her. Aurora, the fairies, and Prince Philip are present in this telling, but they are mostly just backdrops to Maleficent’s character.
There is no profanity or sexual content in Maleficent, and the violence is minimal for a fantasy film. Angelina Jolie does an amazing job playing the protagonist, and the creativity in the fairies and fantastical creatures are a joy to watch.
All this aside, though, I was personally disappointed in this movie. From early on, the story gave the impression that all men are drawn to power and evil ... and if they are not evil, they are useless. While I am the first one in line for a good movie with strong female characters, I was incredibly disappointed to see that at the expense of equally strong male characters. This movie did not provide any male characters for little boys to look up to.
Heidi Joelle is professional minion by day and a writer, editor, and reader by night. She can be coaxed from the house by the sound of a good adventure or the opportunity of traveling somewhere new. Her Saint Bernard, Smokey, and problem-solving cat, Diamond, bring extra joy to daily life.