You can always rely on Disney to twist something around and change the tale just when you think that you know the whole story. Before they started concentrating on live action remakes of their animated classics, Disney took one of those classics and turned it on it’s head, creating Maleficent, a completely new take on the story of Sleeping Beauty. Starring Angelina Jolie, Maleficent tells the origin story of the iconic Disney villain, showing how a betrayal in her youth led her to curse the princess Aurora and how she discovered the real meaning of true loves kiss.
We all may know the story of the princess who falls into a powerful sleep at the prick of her finger, but this film retells the tale. We see Maleficent as a child, growing up peacefully in a magical land until her homeland is invaded and she is left broken hearted by a young man, turning her into the villain we all know. Years later, she decides to get revenge by cursing his new born daughter. What follows is a voyage of discovery as Maleficent learns about what really matters as she realises what is needed to unite her magical land with the neighbouring world that once tried to destroy it
As Maleficent, Jolie is both believable and commanding. The costumes and makeup are true to the animated character, with Jolie bringing her to life in a way that strangely makes you both love and hate her. It’s amazing what an added backstory can do, introducing reasons for everything that Maleficent does, whether it be bad or good. Elle Fanning plays Aurora, raised by fairies pretending to be human and constantly enchanted by any glimpse of wonder and magic that she can find. She is open hearted and trusting, unafraid of Maleficent and loving to all.
Lesley Manville, Juno Temple and Imelda Staunton add a lovely element of comedy as Flittle, Thistletwit and Knotgrass, the three fairies assigned to raise Aurora in secret. Using Human disguises, they suddenly have to adapt to a life without magic, all while trying to raise the princess who only ever wants to explore the world around her. Their chemistry is natural, allowing the comedy to flow along nicely without feeling forced.
Whilst the film may feel a little stretched out in places, and some of the early scenes are so dark that you can only just see what is going on, overall Maleficent is an enjoyable fantasy which proves pleasing family viewing. It’s interesting to see such a well known fairy tale told from a different point of view, giving it a completely new twist on the norm. That being said, the story could appear a little far fetched to those who loved the original sleeping beauty story, but each to their own.