A beautiful woman drugged until she cannot defend herself. She awakes in agony, something forcibly taken from her that she did not consent for.
This is not some horror film. Instead, it’s Maleficent, the PG-rating retelling of Sleeping Beauty with some seriously dark undertones.
Directed by Robert Stromberg, Maleficent tells the `true` version of the story that we all grew up knowing, showing evil is not all that it seems and Maleficent had reasons to go dark and start destroying everything in her path, eventually cursing an infant princess.
But when you consider the implications of how she lost her wings, maybe it’s not so surprising.
Even when the film moves on to the time period in the tale we are used to hearing about, it is not what it seems. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) spends sixteen years watching the young princess (Elle Fanning) grow up and can’t help feel attached to her. But curses cannot be broken, not ones cast with that much evil behind them and the whole kingdom is almost certain true love doesn’t exist and so she cannot be saved. Almost because Diaval (Sam Riley) – Maleficent’s servant-crow-dog-horse-dragon – still has hope.
When true love comes, it is not in the traditional sense. This would be impressive… if it didn’t feel like Maleficent is just taking a leaf out of Frozen’s book and playing with convention. Frozen has the true love between sisters. Once upon a Time was the first to have it between parent and child. Disney didn’t win on subtlety at the key moment of the film but instead made it predictable.
The change in the storyline also opens up a great opportunity for an exciting fight sequence. As, naturally, no fairytale film will be complete without a group of soldiers stabbing at a defenceless and weakened woman.
It was a shame because the film is actually a rather enjoyable one. Opening in the classical fairytale sense with a narrator, it then throws in some magic and some beautiful shots of a mysterious land that certainly didn’t feature in the original tale. The acting is neither here nor there, apart from Jolie’s sarcastic moments as Maleficent certainly showing a more rounded character than anyone else, even if it is just her withering looks towards Diaval that does it. Not to mention her look certainly defines what it means by cheekbones that can cut glass.
The film is a PG-rating. The opening shots set it out to be a child’s film. However, the darker undertones surrounding the story meant that watching it as an adult, there was far more going on under the surface than shown through pretty fairies and giant trees. It gave the film an edge and a depth that meant adult are left watching it in completely a different light to their children.
While it isn’t one that I would rush to watch again, it was rather an enjoyable film. For a night with nothing else on and you just want to chill out, this would be a recommendation.