Sunday, June 1, 2014

Maleficent Reivew

The Only Explanation For This Movies Badness is Magic...Or Poor Filmmaking
Even she looks shocked at how bad this film is!
The best villains in cinema have an aura of mystery to them. Would The Joker be that imposing in The Dark Knight if we knew all of his backstory? How about Richie DiMaso in American Hustle? And if Boba Fett was revealed to be Bill Phillips, an accountant from Oregon, would he still remain so thrilling? (Ok, maybe that last one could work if Noah Baumbach directed. Frances Hoth we could call it) Maleficent makes the crucial mistake thinking that the only thing missing from that impeccable villain is a "tragic" backstory, that really just amounts to Twilight-esque romance and inconsistent characters.

Their main trouble is that the titular characters only appearance in any other media prior to this was the 1959 masterpiece Sleeping Beauty, as well as some Kingdom Hearts media. Unlike the characters seen in Disney's past two fantasy films (Alice In Wonderland and Oz The Great And Powerful), there aren't dozens of different cinematic interpretations of this characters to go through. That's not a terrible scenario; if they were smart, they would forget all about the original Disney movie and do their own thing. Which they kind of do, and yet, kind of don't.

Ya see, the tale of Sleeping Beauty as shown in the 1959 film kind of sort of happened; Prince Phillip, the three fairies, a spinning wheel and that engrossing baddie still factor in here. But the villain this time around is Aurora's (Elle Fanning) father, King Stefan (Sharlto Copley). While it's great that Copley gets a major role like this (he more than deserves it!), he's a pale substitute for the original animated features antagonist. But replacing the original Maleficent with a dude that dresses up in Sauron's armor is the least of the films problems. No, the worst part of the entire film is in it's one instance of entirely remaking a scene from the original movie; the scene where Maleficent curses baby Aurora to enter into an eternal sleep.

The whole scene lacks the dramatic potency of the original, and while Jolie is at least allowed to spring to evil life here (the only time in the movie she's allowed to do so). Oh, and let's just say the way she exits the scene here is just anemic when compared to the original.  Now, when it comes to remakes, I tend to take the attitude of book-to-movie adaptations and allow these things to stand on their own. But when your copying your inspiration this much, and then fail this badly, it deserves to be noticed. Speaking of failing badly,  the character of Maleficent in her incarnation here, is perfectly pitiful. Gone is the Queen of All Evil who threw all the forces of Hell at Prince Phillip; she's pretty much a glorified babysitter here. See, that last plot point really sticks out to me, since just a year or two after cursing the child to die on her 16th birthday, she soon takes the kid under hew wing. Now look, I'm not a soulless monster, I'll even freely admit the first scene where Maleficent encounters Aurora is all kinds of adorable, but it doesn't make scenes for the character as we've come to know her thus far in this particular movie.

That high level of inconsistency that plagues the movie has a field day with the films action sequences, which are so close to being thrilling it's disgusting. In a terrible waste of cool looking fantasy creatures, an epic battle between man and the magical beasts Maleficent helps protect loses all of it's effectiveness since the battles are shot so incoherently. In an effort to make the fights as PG appropriate as possible, no stabbings, impaling or what have you can be shown. As you might imagine, this makes depicting an epic battle sequence extremely difficult and by the end of it all, it just becomes a dull mess.

At least the finale is staged a little more lucid, although all the good is melted away by one of the single most idiotic things I've seen depicted in a film of this financial caliber. It's befuddling how this particular moment, along with practically everything else from the inconsistent characters to the God-awful green screen to the 3D that makes sure you can't see anything that happens in the film, was thought to be acceptable in the slightest.

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