Lowdown: The classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale told from the baddie’s point of view.
I seem to have been blessed with two films in a row heavy on female themes and featuring female stars. Maleficent is completely different to Adore, yet both are very well made movies; this time around we have Angelina Jolie in the lead.
As befits a tale of fantasy, Maleficent is a story about the interaction between two worlds. On one side there is the ordinary world of men, and on the other there is a magical world of anarchy where fantastic creatures roam about. Amongst these creatures is Maleficent (Jolie), who at the start of the movie is a girl. Not your ordinary girl: she’s got wings. And horns.
She is also curious. So when she meets a human boy Stefan (later played by District 9 and Elysium's Sharlto Copley) at the border of the two lands, the two become good friends despite their differences. They even, at least as Maleficent is concerned, fall in love.
Things change when Stefan learns he could be king by getting rid of Maleficent. He doesn’t kill her; he just takes her wings off when she’s asleep. That is, he does the same thing – metaphorically speaking – that men have been doing to women throughout recorded history. Maleficent is not your regular fairy tale, so our heroine does not have a magical concoction of Red Bull to give her wings [back]. Instead, while Stefan does become king, Maleficent is yet to have her last word on the matter. Which sets things out for a rendition of the Sleeping Beauty story where we see things from the point of view of the evil witch for a change.
As these archaic stories go, Maleficent is a pretty good – and quite original – view on a familiar formula. Having a female undisputedly in the lead is original (tick), and having the other side’s point of view leading the story is original too (tick). Proceedings are quite colourful and rich, making Maleficent quite a sight to the eye; some of the designs have clearly received their inspiration from Labyrinth. There’s even a Lana Del Rey song to seal off an excellent production effort.
Overall: Maleficent shows us movie stories can be recycled well, if the artists put their mind to it. 3.5 out of 5 legendary crabs.