Friday, April 24, 2015

Better Late Than Never: Maleficent


Maleficent tells the story of the villainess from Sleeping Beauty. Starting out as an innocent fairy in the depths of the forest the movie follows Maleficent in her betrayal, downfall, and eventual redemption. Yup, that's right, redemption. Which I'm totally fine with, by the way. Didn't think I would be (and the part of me that doesn't like wanton messing with myths still doesn't), but I can't help myself: The acting is much better than I expected, particularly Jolie, who's known for her not-so-acty roles. There's a good amount of chemistry in the cast and it's the chief thing that helps sell the premise. Jolie really sells the role well and the writers pair her up with Aurora in an inspired way! The movie puts a fair amount of pathos into Maleficent's struggle to become the pure-hearted being she once was.

The effects are...decent. There's some obvious CGI here and there that's a bit annoying at times, but most of the effects are done well enough that  I didn't notice them. I did find myself liking Maleficent's wings, they help define the character in ways that are hard to talk about without spoiling. And the dragon at the end's pretty cool as well.

Speaking of the end, the movie builds to what is ultimately one of the most disappointing endings I've seen in a movie. All of a sudden the movie seems to forget it's own interior logic. Maleficent goes from badass to damsel in distress because the writers demanded that it be so. It's sad, because the movie forgot that sometimes it's OK to not go for the big and flashy salvation and stick with the "stay true to the character and things will work themselves out" approach. Because, had they done so, I would have found myself a fan of the movie instead of a frustrated viewer. There was promise in Maleficent, and the fact that they screwed it up with that horrible and hammy ending is a bitter pill to swallow.

While it was a good movie 3/4's of the way through, Maleficent gave up on it's engaging, character-driven plot for sound and thunder that amounts to nothing more than a sick feeling in my stomach. If only they had realized when the actual moment of Maleficent's salvation was the writers could have let the movie have the sweet ending that it deserved. Instead we got... that.