A review of Disney's Maleficent

I've been watching a lot of Disney movies lately. I watched Maleficent in theatres; I succumbed because the trailer's combination of Maleficent's beautiful costumes and the Lana Del Rey remix of Once Upon a Dream.

With Frozen I said something good not because it was a fantastic movie but because I was so surprised that I'd have something good to say at all. Here, I'm going to be much more critical.

Sorry about posting this so late - I honestly forgot about it, and found it in the "Drafts" today.

SPOILER ALERTS. If you haven't seen it by now, here's your warning.

This movie is marketed to women

All humans are evil and only nature is good. Oh, except Aurora, she's good too. The rest of them have holes in their hearts that are filled with greed. And when they're evil to Maleficent, her being like them is a mark of how evil she is becoming.

Also, they're all men. You see a handful of women in the entire castle, none of whom have any power to change anything. This explains why Aurora is good - she's a girl. Girls are good. Boys are bad, and greedy, and like to hurt things, and hate good things for no reason. Except for really pretty boys like Phillip who smile a lot and don't talk and spend most of the movie in a magically induced coma. Those ones are OK.

A seriously meta curse

So this human dude is friends with a beautiful fairy named Maleficent. He betrays her trust and cuts off her wings so that he can be King. She's obviously very upset.

In revenge, she puts a spell on his newborn princess so that everyone who knows the girl will love her, but despite this, that the girl will prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deathlike sleep from which she can only be resuscitated by true love's kiss. This spell is completely unalterable.

She then proceeds to spend inordinate amounts of time around the girl, knowing that her curse will make anyone around her love her. 

Because of her own spell's work on herself, she ends up loving Aurora and wanting to remove the curse. Disney's on a roll with using true love not between lovers, so it ends up that it is Malificent's gentle peck on the forehead that breaks the spell she cast. 

Is anyone else as confused as I? Like, seriously. That's not true love - that's Maleficent feeling the side effects of her own spell.

Maleficent is bad for wanting justice?

They make it temporarily seem like Maleficent is a villain for doing these bad things (even though we know she's just a good fairy who's really upset). Seems like perfectly logical magical being behaviour to me. They're not tame. Why we'd believe them to be on the same moral scale as us, rather than say, a lion, is beyond me.

Except, it's bad that she's mean to them, even though they're greedy evil bastards who need to learn a lesson?

Maleficent's wardrobe

Her varied wardrobe was both phantasmagoric, iconic, and magical. (But not believable: imagine her agonizing over those feather details, or getting into or out of these things whenever she's alone.) I loved what they started with and how it evolved throughout the movie. Remember how this movie was marketed to women? 

To all those costume designers who worked for hours on details that furthered the plot - I noticed. Her emotional drama played out in her clothes -  the stark darkness of her gown following her betrayal, changes to the texture of her collar and headdress as she relented. She almost never appeared in the same garment twice.

The costumes around her were much less interesting. They definitely fit the original movie, but they appeared gaudy, bright, even falsely shiny next to the incredible detail and organic subtlety to be found in Maleficent's garments. They felt like an afterthought.

Aurora actually looks like a 16-year-old, and has lost the Barbie vibe of the animated movie. I found her dark eyebrows (although accurate to the original) very distracting with her blond hair. It's less discomfiting on a cartoon character. 

The fairytale creatures

...were fairytale creatures, I guess. Lumpy, skinny, woody, muddy, fairy. They are all quiet and tame except the tree people, who are badass. In an Avatar- and Lord of the Rings-esque move, nature triumphs with intense violence over man in several scenes (even though this never happens in anything like real life, and those soldiers would've all run screaming.) 

The three fairies/pixies were annoyingly photoshopped. Also, and by far my biggest question - are there not any other fairies in this entire place who look like Maleficent? Why is she the only one who is, for lack of a more eloquent term, a big person? Where are her parents?

The dragon and the horse-bird that Maleficent transforms her raven into were both well-done, although I must admit I was intensely disappointed that Maleficent didn't transform herself into a dragon like the previous Disney movie. 

Final comments

Like Brave and Frozen, the movie was talked up as being female-positive and innovative, so when I actually saw it I was disappointed. The costumes were nice. In the future I won't read reviews in advance.