With Disney’s latest live action film Maleficent Angelina Jolie adds the ability to play the heroine/villain roles to her already impressive repertoire. Her star turn in the film is really the reason to watch Maleficent. Despite the fact that the CGI is wonderful eye candy the most arresting visual of the film is Jolie’s Maleficent. Yes, her already wonderful features have been tweaked by film magic, but the way she uses her body to convey the pride, anger and pain her character is feeling is a sight to behold and adds as much, if not more, than any special effect.
What really struck me about Angelina Jolie in this role is how it seemed like she was actually enjoying acting again. She seems to really be sinking her teeth into the role in every scene. Maybe it was the realization that she was partaking in a feminist retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. Her Maleficent is a great role model for young girls. They get to see a more well rounded picture of what was previously a one dimensional villain. Now she is made more human (though she is a fairy) with all kinds of emotions and normal reactions to situations.
A young fairy named Maleficent (Angelina Jolie – Girl, Interrupted, The Tourist) gives her heart and trust to a young man named Stefan (Sharlto Copley – District 9, Elysium) only to be betrayed in the worst possible way. The betrayal and having her wings cut off does not render her powerless instead she rises up stronger than ever. Using her vast magical abilities Maleficent rules over the Moors with an iron fist and a stone heart.
All she thinks about is revenge on the man who wronged her. When Stefan becomes King takes a Queen and then has a child Maleficent finally sees how she is going to hurt him like he did her. Maleficent becomes obsessed with the Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Super 8). As the child is being presented to the kingdom Maleficent crashes the party and puts a spell on Aurora. She says that on the eve of her 16th birthday the girl will prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. She could only be woken from the sleep by the kiss of true love.
In order to protect his daughter King Stefan has all spindles burned or thrown into the castles dungeon and then has Aurora taken from the castle to be watched over in a remote location by three fairies, Flittle (Lesley Manville – Another Year, Vera Drake), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, Nanny McPhee) and Thistlewit (Juno Temple – The Dark Knight Rises, Atonement).
Never far from the gaze of Maleficent the young princess grows up and to the great surprise of the powerful fairy, she grows to love Aurora. This really puts a kink in her plans as now Maleficent will do anything to protect the princess from the very spell she has put on her.
Maleficent is a reminder of how hypnotic Angelina Jolie can be on screen. If you can get past the larger than life persona she has created and all the gossip she has suffered under then when you watch a performance like this you can be assured of the talent that has been there all along. She is the perfect choice to play this powerful and in control character. Jolie adds a depth to the character not many could have.
Some might be shocked by the retelling’s slant towards revenge though none should be upset over the strong message of female cohesion. It is a film that was a risk by the studio. Disney goes out on a limb and makes a character that has always been a straight up villain and transformed her into an anti-hero. With Disney traditionally their characters are either good or evil. Not something in between like Maleficent. Disney also continues along the path begun by the animated film Frozen in which the female characters demonstrate themselves to be strong and not needing a man to be happy and fulfilled. Females are not around just to be rescued by men. A great and much needed message that young women need to be presented with time and time again.
-Aurora: Becoming A Beauty
-From Fairy Tale to Feature Film
-Building An Epic Battle