Beware ye who may read this, for there be slight spoilers ahead.
In an embarrassment of riches as far as summer movies go, there was one that I had no intention of missing in the theatres. Maleficent was that movie.
As you would expect, this is a retelling of a story that you only think you know. Like the mega-popular Broadway musical Wicked did for The Wizard of Oz, Maleficent retells the tale of Sleeping Beauty from another point of view. Oh, and what a tale it tells! But that is also where I had the most problem with the movie.
This could have been one of the great Disney movies of our time, but it’s not, unfortunately. Unlike Wicked, Maleficent doesn’t take the time to invest you in what makes the characters interesting. Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent, as well as Aurora (played by Elle Fanning) and Maleficent’s familiar crow Diaval (played by English actor Sam Riley), were all fine and had well-developed roles, but the other characters were two-dimensional at best.
There were also a lot of logical holes. Maybe this is part of the classic Disney story, but why would King Stefan entrust his daughter’s safety to three tiny faeries when, just the day before, the fae and humans were at war? He’s a King, after all. What better place to keep a princess safe for sixteen years than in a castle?
Visually, Maleficent is stunning. The environments and landscapes are beautiful and idyllic. Watching the movie is like you are really there. There’s so much addictive eye-crack that you wish you had a “rewind” button so that you can constantly go back and absorb it all.
There are new faerie creatures that are shown, but again, they are just shown. Short of touching them, there’s no real reason for them to be there.
There was one surprise, though: an actual non-white actor played the Mad-King Stefan’s Man of Arms. His name is Jermaine Tindell, and apparently the character’s name was Tactus, but you wouldn’t know this from watching the film. And don’t look for his name in the credits, either because he is uncredited.
So, where does that leave us? Maleficent is a pitcher-plant of a movie. It lures you in with its beauty and promise of wonder, but ultimately drowns you with disappointment.
Lana Del Rey’s interpretation of “Once Upon a Dream” is nice, at least. So there’s that.