I’ll be the first to admit I have contested feelings about Disney’s Revival Era. I was raised on the Disney Renaissance films like Mulan, Pocahontas, and Beauty and the Beast. Probably my biggest gripe with Disney’s CGI remake extravaganza is the colors. Everything just looks so dark. Of course, I’m not suddenly expecting Simba’s pelt to be yellow, but I miss the vibrancy. Needless to say, I had my concerns when I was given the opportunity to go to an early screening of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. I dragged my best friend–whose spiritual aesthetic is doom and gloom—to the theater.
We got our snacks and were met by a dude in a suit asking us to give up our arms; I mean… our phones. We had a moment of weakness where we tried to reconsider whether the film was worth it. Alas, my desire of getting a paycheck prevailed. What surprised me the most was the amount of people who are used to Disney early screenings and did not bring their phones to the movie theater at all. I mean, how does one reach that level of clout? Jeez. Anyway, the screening room was absolutely FULL. After a reminder to please leave our phones outside, the film started.
I was pleasantly surprised by the plot. Maleficent is probably one of the top boss ass bitch villains in all of Disney. A dark fairy who curses baby Aurora, a princess, with eternal sleep after she turns 16? A badass. Of course, in the 1959 Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is a stock villain. In Disney’s reimagining of the character, she is explained to have cursed baby Aurora out of anger for having been betrayed by Aurora’s father, Stefan, her former lover. (Gasp!) Disney’s move to humanize Maleficent and have the audience sympathize with her is ballsy as hell and makes for a dark yet entertaining tale.
At this point in the Maleficent universe, she is still Aurora’s “fairy” godmother. She protects the Moors––essentially, a forest that sits across the river from the human kingdom full of magical creatures––and Aurora is queen of the Moors. The plot of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil mainly revolves around Aurora and Prince Phillip’s nuptials. The two people who are less than pleased about the announcement are Maleficent and Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith, who we soon realize is obsessed with guns and is amassing weapons to destroy all creatures in the Moors, and most importantly, Maleficent. Aurora marrying Philip, then, would mean peace between the Moors and the human kingdom.
After a disastrous dinner party, (where Aurora makes Maleficent cover her horns which was truly, a hate crime), chaos erupts. The queen pisses Maleficent off and in the commotion where Maleficent is trying to not kill all dem hoes, the king falls into a deep sleep. Maleficent is blamed, for this is the same curse she cast on Aurora when she was a baby, and leaves the kingdom. Before I get too carried away and go into heavy spoiler territory, let me tell you what I liked and didn’t like about the movie.
Probably my biggest gripe with this film is the villain: Queen Ingrith. In the 1959 Sleeping Beauty we never see Philip’s mother, and she’s not a character in the 2014 Maleficent. This bitch… is truly evil incarnate. I don’t think I’ve wished for anyone’s death as much as this character. Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance is probably only matched by Imelda Staunton’s performance as Dolores Umbridge in the fifth Harry Potter. The problem is that this villain doesn’t have any clear motivation. Other than a bizarre allergy of plant life and a sad upbringing, the only thing that fuels her hatred of all the creatures in the Moors is the mysterious death of her brother. A death she blames on fairies. The problem is, the film never revisits this. We’re expected to just go along with her vendetta that just comes across as needlessly cruel. This makes the film’s main conflict kind of hard to follow.
In other news, Angelina Jolie was BORN to play this role. The problem is that Maleficent only has a few lines in the whole movie. Honestly, they should reconsider the title to be Mistress of Silence. It was bizarrely absurd. Not that the character has always been portrayed as chatty, but for a movie about her, you’d think she’d share her thoughts and feelings a bit more. That said, I *REALLY* need to know where the FUCK she gets that lipstick? I NEED TO KNOW.
Probably the most interesting part of the film was getting to know all the new Fey characters, who very closely resemble whatever creature Maleficent is. The scene truly looked like a goth kid’s fever dream. At any given moment, the scenery and shots looked like images I would have used as my computer’s wallpaper in high school complete with a My Chemical Romance quote, of course. Without going too much into detail, it has been a really long time since I sat in a movie theater and forgot I was sitting down surrounded by loads of people. The world where the Fey live was so beautifully constructed that it wasn’t until someone in the audience coughed that I snapped out of it and remembered I was in Ohio, with a popcorn kernel stuck under my right boob.
All-in-all, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is an enjoyable experience. I think that it is a film that caters to children and overall Disney stans. That said, the film kept me interested in what was going to happen at every turn. Going off OSU’s grading rubric, I give it a C+.