Friday, May 30, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Maleficent

Thinking of taking the kids to see Disney's Maleficent this weekend? Here's what you need to know.

Image © Disney.

First and foremost, the movie is rated PG, but that's a rating I don't entirely agree with. I think the movie industry falls short, because I don't think it should necessarily be rated PG-13, but I think PG is just a tad weak. I think that the video game rating system works better here, and I'm calling it an E-10... yes, it's a Disney movie, but there is a lot of darkness to it and a surprising amount of violence early on. Younger kids who are sensitive may not mesh with this fairy tale. There were a couple kids that I guessed to be around 7ish sitting next to me in the screening, and I found myself looking over at them often to gauge their reactions. While TV Boy didn't go with me, and I'm sure he'd be fine with it (the monsters in Doctor Who and in movies like The Avengers didn't phase him in the least), I don't think this movie is quite the family flick they're painting it to be. Just be warned.

Image © Disney

Here's one of the trailers that not only shows some of the scary critters in the film, but a couple moments of one of the fight scenes. Plus it features the haunting version of Once Upon A Dream that gives me chills every time I hear it.

That said, let's get down to the meat of it. This time I was joined by my "little brother" and movie reviewer, Mike Raine. Check out his blog of movie reviews! And here's his review, which has a little more of the plot than I reveal here.

Image © Disney

The narrative is simple: the story we all know and love from the original Disney animated classic Sleeping Beauty isn't "what really happened". Disney adopted a sort of "Wicked" format... the villian isn't truly evil, she's just misunderstood. And honestly, with that they do a decent job. I am not going to get all spoilery, but if I was Maleficent and had the same thing done to me as she has in the beginning of the film, I'd be mad too and would probably seek revenge just the same. They do a good enough job of getting you to care about the villain, and really that's what matters.

The fairy dumdums. Image © Disney.

Fans of the original are going to be disappointed with some of the changes, including the three fairies entrusted with raising Aurora being made into complete bumbling idiots, along with having their names changed entirely (no Meriwether here, folks!). They aren't the only ones suffering a name change, as Maleficent's pet crow/servant Diablo is renamed Diaval... not much difference, sure, but it's enough. It bugged me.

He's a bird turned human, but with hollow bones! ©Disney

I found the plot to be pretty predictable overall. It kind of detracted from the performance of Angelina Jolie, which I have to say... I'm not a fan of hers usually, but she was absolutely outstanding in this role. I don't know if it's because they have to cram more than twenty some-odd years into one movie or what, but it felt rushed to me.

Image © Disney

The visuals are pretty spectacular, and they do a good job of tying in some of the classic film scenes we're all used to (see above). Our screening happened to be in IMAX 3D, which was kind of neat, but honestly I don't think the 3D element added much to the movie itself. Plus it gave me a headache. Glasses + 3D glasses =  not a good combination. I found myself having to look around too much to really take in the film entirely. Save your money and see the regular 2D version.

Mom and daughter. Image © Disney.

Fun fact: Angelina's daughter Vivienne makes a cameo appearance as one of the young Auroras (5 year old version). They share a really cute scene together and she gets a couple lines.

Elle Fanning as Aurora. Image © Disney.

Elle Fanning (aka Dakota Fanning's little sister) was a passable Aurora. Not amazing, but not horrible. For a change, the actress playing the character was actually right around the same age as the character. That's unusual for the entertainment industry, and I actually am happy with it. The Disney films especially seem to gloss over the teens in terms of body type and attitude.

Image © Disney

Overall, it was good, but I wasn't in love with it. If you're a die hard Sleeping Beauty or Angelina Jolie fan, it's worth seeing in theatres. I'd leave the little princess fans at home though, or wait to see it on DVD/Blu-ray.

Now I just want one of these Diaval dragon tees in my size and I'll be good.

Maleficent is playing in theatres starting today, May 30th, and is rated PG. 

Disclosure: I was provided a free advanced screening of the film for review purposes. Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.


  1. Thanks for the great review! I've been wondering about this one.

  2. Thanks! I was wondering about this one. I didn't think I would show it to my girls yet just from the visuals, but am wanting to see it myself.
    I do tend to like Angelina Jolie and Maleficent is my favorite Disney villain.