Monday, June 30, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent (2014)

Once upon a time, in a land of computer graphics, lived a human-sized fairy with an impressive wingspan. She was Maleficent. One day, she persuaded some baby Ents to release a human boy caught trespassing into their land and stealing. The boy, Stefan, confessed that he lived in a barn and had no parents. Then they went to shake hands, but his iron ring hurt the fairy, so he threw it away. This is an important plot point.

Maleficent was touched, and she and Stefan remained friends over the years. But alas, the eeeeevil king who ruled the non-fairies decided to attack the moors, at which point Maleficent, the baby Ents, and other woodland creatures from Guillermo del Toro Lite Studios (TM) squished the heck out of his army. Defeated but still dickish, the king promised his kingdom and daughter to whoever slew Maleficent.

Lesson 1: Monarchical systems of government are only good if you're the monarch.

Stefan went into the Moors and roofied Maleficent. Instead of killing her, he cut off her epic wings. And that was the end of his character development.

Fail 1: An awesome antihero needs an equally compelling true villain.

Maleficent went to a dark place after Stefan's betrayal. Through sheer cheekbones, she established her own fairy dictatorship, turned a crow into a shapeshifter so he can act as her spy, and swanned into Stefan's daughter's christening in glorious leather to reenact the "death at 16" cursing scene from the 1959 animated film.

"I have a gift for your child! That is why I am so happy."

Lesson 2: Angelina Jolie is the best thing about this movie.

King Stefan sent his daughter to be raised by her three fairy godmothers, who were supposed to bring her back the day after her 16th birthday. They turned out to be ditzes, so Maleficent stepped in to make sure little Aurora actually survived childhood. Her crow, not-hot Orlando Bloom, also pitched in. Little Aurora grew up to be slightly less adorable Drew Barrymore, aka Elle Fanning, whose incredible sweet nature reminded Maleficent of herself before Stefan pulled his date rape allegory.

Lesson 3: Only magic can make you beautiful and good-natured.

Maleficent and Aurora became close, and Aurora decided she would live with her "fairy godmother" in the Moors when she turned 16. Maleficent was all, "You could live here now, girlfriend!" and Aurora ran off to tell the three women who "raised" her, but of course they told her about the curse and so Aurora did a 180 and ran back to Maleficent, who confirmed that she did, indeed, curse her as a baby, so Aurora got on a horse that magically appeared using her riding skills that also magically appeared, because magic. She headed for daddy's castle.

Fail 2: Seriously, where did she get the horse?

During all this time, King Stefan had lost his wife and his mind, but he still remembered that iron is a fairy's weakness, so he'd been prepping for Maleficent's inevitable return. When Aurora was escorted to him, he went, "You look just like your mother," and the audience was like, "Maybe he will stop being a creepster!" But no. He ordered her locked in her room, where she discovered the secret passageway just like in the 1959 film, and wandered down to the castle basement to get her finger pricked on an intact spindle, per curse/contract.

Lesson 4: You have to nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Maleficent gallops in with the unconscious boy who met Aurora once in the woods, hoping he can give her "true love's kiss" and break the curse. She and her crow plop him right outside the door where Aurora is in her deathlike sleep, guarded by her three fairy godmothers. When they open the door (he's awake by this point) and realize he's a prince, they're all, "Excellent! Someone of equivalent socioeconomic status!" and pull him in. Then they're all, "Girlfriend needs a kiss!" while the prince is like, "But, um, she's passed out..." and the fairies are all, "Forget consent! Save her life!"

Fail 3: Gross.

And then [SPOILERS REDACTED], and Maleficent and Aurora try to leave the castle and return to the moors. But King Stefan and his iron-clad soldiers spring their trap! They cast Iron Net! Maleficent fights unconsciousness and casts Turn Crow Into Dragon! She tells Aurora to run! Aurora runs! The dragon frees Maleficent from the net and roasts the room! But King Stefan casts Ring of Soldiers with Iron Riot Police Shields! Then he gets in the center and whips Maleficent with chains! Meanwhile, the dragon's snout has been chained shut! They are about to be overwhelmed!

But wait! Aurora discovers [SPOILERS REDACTED]! Maleficent levels up to Beast Mode and sheds her dress for a leather bodysuit! She is unstoppable and pwns King Stefan! The true evil is vanquished! Love conquers all!

Cut to: fairy land, now free from Maleficent's darkness, as evidenced by her new headgear: delicate golden links instead of leather. Then they have a Star Wars crowning ceremony. I don't know what happens to the prince. The end.

TL; DR: Awfully dark for a kid's film, but perfect for a moody adolescent or teenager. Jolie crushes it.

This post brought to you by Boston's first insanely hot week.

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