I went to see this movie tonight. I’ll give the bottom line up front: Maleficent is magnificent and I liked her story quite a bit – despite the quibbling complaints that follow. And while I don’t really intend to spoil and indeed won’t be doing much beyond what should be obvious from trailers, read on realizing I might do so unintentionally.
Angelina Jolie is not my favorite actress, but she was an excellent choice for this. I did not think Elle Fanning was a best choice – too much ‘girl next door’ instead of, well, magically granted grace and beauty such that all will love her. On the other hand major kudos to casting a 16 year old actress as an almost-16 character. And that reality did come through a bit.
I was sort of disappointed about the overall arc of King Stephan. And it bothered me a bit that he started with a sort of English accent which became Scottish as an adult – and the later the arc the heavier the sort of Scottish accent became. Finally a minor disagreement with the director’s vision: I’d have kept Stephan physically trim all the way through. In fact I’d have made him increasingly ‘dapper and dashing’. I think it would have reinforced the arc by way of contrast. Let him become disheveled only during the climactic scene.
Jolie’s costume is pretty much constant for the whole movie except for one section, and that section actually had me turn to my brother as he turned to me and ask if we really saw that. With no obvious reason for it to happen she goes from Maleficent’s long black gown to short tunic and pants. And a little later in the scent she’s back to the gown. As near as we can figure it’s so the legs are accessible, necessary for what happens at that point in the scene. No more as it would spoil, but it was still wrong not to either show it happening before or finding another way.
Those noted, the good things. If you can, watch the original cartoon before going. There is some scenery – mattes mostly – that are dead on recreations. And just as fun there are a handful of places where the dialogue is word for word. In some cases it plays the same, and in others it plays, well, this is the same story from another viewpoint. (Not completely, not at/near the end, but in general yes it is.)
I thought the special effects generally well done. No, strike that, I liked them. (a hopefully non-spoiler example: in Maleficent’s realm are faeries, and some of them have appeared in other Disney films. Fantasia for one example, but not the only. Yes there a lot of Disney easter eggs.) That said, Elle Fanning bobbled a couple of the green screens (or the green screen effects team bobbled the graphics, whichever). Both of them I noticed were when she reached out and touched/petted the graphics.
Oh, one last thing. There were a couple of what I’ll politely call gentlemen behind me who apparently didn’t pay attention to or think about all the advertising and trailers. Apparently it didn’t get through to them that for Maleficent to be the heroine of the tale the woman had to defeat the man. If that bothers you don’t see it. Just, don’t complain to me. Really, don’t.
I liked it. Many of the things I really liked would require spoiling it for you. I might even do another post about what I really liked after people have had enough time for spoilers to be moot.