MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
As far as remakes go, Maleficent was one of my personal favorites. It didn't tell the story of Sleeping Beauty all over again. Instead, it chose to ask "What if Maleficent had found Aurora as a baby?" In doing so, it freed itself from the constraints of the original tale and told its own unique story. It wasn't a perfect film by any stretch of the means, but it stood out for its daring take on a classic story, even more so now with so many remakes being made. It was surprising to see a sequel to the film, but it wasn't surprising that it couldn't live up to the originality of the first film.
The story centers around the engagement of Prince Philip and Princess Aurora and ensuing bickering between Maleficent and Prince Philip's parents. Honestly, I would be so down for a comedy about these people fighting over who runs the show at the wedding, but alas, we didn't get a comedy. That's not a bad thing, but things tend to escalate when some magical mischief begins to take place and a war begins. Yeah, a war. This movie gets wild, but at the same time, it seems simple once you get to the root of the story. It's essentially another colonizing-is-bad-and-you-shouldn't-attack-people-you-don't-know type of story. There's nothing wrong with it, but it just seems cliche at this point. It doesn't try to do anything interesting with its premise, and its message is one we've heard before. It's a shame that it struggles to stand out from the crowd, whereas its predecessor easily remains one of the more unique adaptations of classic literature.
What this movie lacks in originality it tries to make up for in its cinematography. There are some shots in this movie that should be made as a wallpaper. One particular shot of the titular character is absolutely stunning with its contrasting colors. The CGI on the other hand is hit or miss. It's pretty obvious what is or isn't made by a computer animation software, but some of the creatures featured are not visually stunning. I didn't like how the Good Fairies looked in the first movie, and I still don't like them now. Some creatures that are a mix between practical effects and visual effects look great. For the most part, this will delight fantasy fans with its monster designs and some beautiful, fantastical imagery.
The actors do a decent job with what they have to work with. Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer are great actresses, but I was more impressed with Elle Fanning. She is not afraid to really put her emotions out there, and she offers a chilling performance during the third act. Everyone else isn't as noteworthy, but they can't be blamed for that. They just don't have enough to do to make them stand out or memorable. I just watched the movie, and I can't remember Maleficent's new friends' names. They look cool and sound cool, but we just don't get to know them all that well. We do get to know Maleficent better, and Jolie naturally shines in the role. However, she seems to struggle to balance the dark and light of Maleficent. The character is suppose to still be menacing but a good person too. It's a hard role to be sure, and I have the upmost respect for Jolie for taking on such a challenge.
I've been pretty hard on the movie, but the truth is I did enjoy my time with it. As a fantasy fan, it's always a joy to see new creatures and worlds on the silver screen, but I just wish the writers had come up with something more unique for this story. Admittedly, it still stands out from most Disney remakes as being, you know, different. At least it has that little element of surprise, so maybe there's still some magic left at Disney.
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