Following the trend of live action re-imaginings of Disney’s classic fairy tales such as Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), now comes Maleficent, a totally re-tooled version of Sleeping Beauty (1959) that’s told completely from the never seen perspective of the evil villainess, Maleficent, in the classic animated film.

The world is divided in two; the ordinary familiar human world and the enchanted world of strange supernatural creatures called the Moors. Visually, the two worlds are juxtaposed with the human world a vast manicured tapestry of fields and fences with neatly corralled domestic livestock; a safe and orderly world. 

The Moors, on the other hand, is a wildly dark mysterious thick forest of free flowing rivers, trees, roots and rocks where all manner of mysterious magical creatures reside. Protecting this magical realm from the greedy and ambitious humans is a pure hearted fairy, who grows up to be a beautiful woman with majestic wings that allow her to travel with the speed and grace of an Eagle.

It’s a risky move by Disney to go with such a departure from the original film with a much darker and adult story, which still manages to exist in the same world as the well-loved original but where the characters are not what they seem at first.

One day she meets a curious human boy, Stefan, lost in the Moors after attempting to steal a rare gem stone. She is kind to Stefan and shows him the way out while also showing him the error of his deed. Over time they continue to meet on the edge of both their worlds and become close friends.

Be prepared for a visually spectacular film that faithfully captures the fantasy elements of the original tale but shows us a whole new side of the story never seen before. I have to give credit to Disney for not just doing a straight remake but trying to create something fresh and new while building on the original concepts.

Eventually, while growing into adulthood, Stefan falls prey to the greed and ambition of his human nature and betrays the love and friendship he has developed with his fairy loved one.

Angelina Jolie steals the show here with here sensitive and superb performance easily holding our attention against all the visual effects. Showing her character’s back story, we see now that she is not the evil person we all thought she was. Sleeping Beauty’s character, played by Elle Fanning, has been relegated to a secondary role here.

The betrayal plunges Maleficent into a deep sorrow and hatred for the man she once loved. Realizing that their love was only and illusion, she places a curse on his new born child that can never be broken accept by true love’s kiss.

Digital advances have revolutionized our film making industry to the point now where nothing is too fantastic to make real on the screen. Magic and myth in fairy tales used to be the domain of children’s books and drawings, but today anything we can imagine can be realized in full cinematic splendor.

The human story here is compelling enough to keep us engaged throughout some of the more enchanting flights of fancy in the film. It’s a timeless tale worthy of the fairy tale genre and will entertain both children and adults.


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