Monday, February 16, 2015

Maleficent (2014)

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“I know who you are.”
“Do you?”
“You're my Fairy-Godmother!”

            One of my favorite TV shows is Once Upon a Time. Yes, I do know it is silly and definitely not one of the greatest ever. Sometimes I think I cannot stand it more than I like it. The two reasons I like and continue watching Once Upon a Time is for the way all the Disney fairy tales and their characters have been woven together and for the absolutely fantastic character of the Evil Queen/Regina Mills played by the ever amazing Lana Parrilla (I vote for her for Queen of the Universe. She is stunning in every single way as the Evil Queen). The writers gave the fairy tales and their characters wonderful twists. They kept with the stories as Disney fans know them from but added more depth, more life, and more humanity (both good and bad). The writers to me are genius for being able to pick up certain elements in the stories and for bringing  characters together I never would have thought would come together.
            As much as I like the idea and some of the stories of Once Upon a Time the writing severely lacks in so many ways. The character growth for some has been terrible and they seem to get more annoying (this goes out to Emma Swan and the Charmings). The plot for most of the seasons has been a curse that comes over the real world town where all the characters live and then they have to somehow stop the curse and make it back from wherever the curse has taken them. I know I am not the only who believes that the only consistently well written character has been the Evil Queen and her real world counterpart Regina Mills. 
            What has my rambling about Once Upon a Time have to do with the movie Maleficent? Well, I was trying to make a point in saying that I love seeing different sides or re-imaginings of stories. I do that sometimes re-imaginings/re-workings do not always work and they can be a load of garbage. Maleficent was actually great.
            The story begins when Maleficent was a little girl. She was a fairy who lived in an enchanted peaceful marsh away from the human world.  One day a boy named Stefan from the human world comes through the marsh. He had stolen a stone and was chased into a hiding place by the marsh’s tree guards. Maleficent flew over to see the human since she had never seen one before. She is kind to Stefan and manages to bring him out of his hiding place and to return the rock. The two become friends. Stefan reveals that one day he wants to be the king who lives in the castle far off in the distance but he is only a stable boy.
            Stefan returns to the marsh over the next several years until his human greed for power stops him. The current old king plans an attack on the marsh because he wants the magic of its inhabitants. Maleficent has become the protector of the marsh. She flies out of the marsh and her and the tree guardians defend their home. She knocks the king of his horse and seriously wounds the old man. With the king dying and not having an heir he tells his men that whoever can avenge his death will be the new ruler. Stefan is part of that group of men. Since he was friends with Maleficent he calls out to her as he used to do when they were children and she comes to him. They sit together under a tree. He gives her a drink and she falls asleep. Stefan came back to kill his old friend but he cannot bring himself to do so. Instead he cuts off her wings and leaves her. When Maleficent wakes in the morning she is in pain and her heart has hardened.
            Maleficent turns into someone dark and vengeful. Her main focus is to make Stefan suffer just as she has suffered. Stefan and his queen have a daughter named Aurora. At the christening Maleficent plants the curse that on Aurora’s sixteenth birthday the girl will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and stay in eternal sleep until true love’s first kiss. Stefan is forced to send his baby daughter to live in the woods with three kind fairies.
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Image result for maleficent 2014
Image result for maleficent 2014
            Throughout the sixteen years Maleficent keeps a kind eye on Aurora. As a baby she sends her crow with a flower to feed Aurora. As a toddler she saves the girl from falling to her death off a cliff. Once Aurora turns sixteen, Maleficent reveals herself. Aurora has always known she has had someone keeping an eye on her and thinks Maleficent is her fairy godmother. Maleficent’s old kind heart comes through and tries to lift the curse off of Aurora.
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            The day before Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, she tells Maleficent that she wants to live in the marsh with her. The once kind fairy allows her to. On her way home to tell her aunts of her new plan she comes across the young Prince Phillip. It is love at first sight for them both. Aurora tells the fairies of her plans and they reveal who she really is. Angry and confused she runs to Maleficent. Maleficent reveals who she is as well. Aurora goes to castle to see her father. Stefan has been vengeful and paranoid all of those sixteen years. He is not very happy to see his daughter before the agreed upon date she was to return. He locks her in a room. In the room Aurora hears something calling out to her behind a wall. She opens the door in the wall and follows the calling and sensation down to the basement where Stefan had all the spinning wheels to be burned. Of course there is one spinning wheel that escaped the blaze. Aurora pricks her finger and falls into a sleep.
            Maleficent tried to get to the castle in time to stop Aurora but it was too late. She had the good mind to take Phillip along with her in case anything had happened. Maleficent had a comatose Phillip floating in the air and drops him in front of the door to the room where Aurora had been laid. The fairies were watching over her and nearly drag Phillip into the room to have him kiss the girl. His kiss unfortunately does not work. Maleficent, lurking in the background sees that her curse was not lifted. Heartbroken, she goes over the Aurora’s body and apologizes for what she has done and how she will miss her smile. Before she gets up she kisses Aurora’s head. Suddenly Aurora awakens.
            The two women were about to leave the castle when Stefan and his men come to attack. Maleficent is not able to hold them off. Her skin cannot handle iron so Stefan has the iron workers in his kingdom make iron weapons he could use against his enemy. In defense Maleficent turns her crow into a dragon to hold the men back for a moment. Aurora was wondering the castle when she comes across a room with a pair of wings suspended in wood and glass. They are Maleficent’s wings. Aurora breaks the glass when the wings begin to move. The wings fly to Maleficent and are reunited with her once again.
            Maleficent manages to defeat the evil king Stefan. She brings Aurora back to the marsh and turns it into the marsh she had known as a child. Aurora becomes queen of the lands of the humans and the people of the marsh. She unites them both and the lands live happily ever after.
            Maleficent and Regina Mills/Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time have a lot in common. They were both once good women who wanted nothing in life but to be loved and to be happy. Their happiness was taken from them and their lives turned dark by other people they once trusted. Their souls and character turned dark with revenge and hate towards one person and made that person suffer. Through their darkness their old former kind souls came through. I love that kind of story for these two women so much. They were hurt and they lashed out but there was/is still goodness and kindness in them.
A young Regina Mills on the left and after she became the Evil Queen
             I cannot give Angelina Jolie enough credit and praise for her performance. No one could have played Maleficent better than Jolie. She looked like the character from the Disney movie. Jolie added an air of dignity to Maleficent that I do not think would have been there had she not done so. From the moment Jolie came on the screen I just adored her in the role. She was scary yet you sympathized with her.
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            Maleficent is such a great movie. I had been dying to see it in theaters but did not have the time to when it was originally released. I am so happy I enjoyed it as much as I did. The writers did such a perfect job making Maleficent someone the audience could sympathize with. I think I was waiting to not like her because we are not supposed to like her in the animated version. The writers did not make me hate her they made me want her to get revenge against Stefan. I also liked how they showed that Maleficent did not hate Aurora because what happened was not her fault. She had no idea who her father was and what he had done. Aurora was just as much the victim as Maleficent was. One of my favorite aspects of the movie was how Aurora’s true love kiss was not Phillip but her fairy godmother. Maleficent was the one to show her what true love was. Their relationship was that of a mother and daughter so her kiss could be seen as a mother’s true love for her daughter (On Once Upon a Time to get a kid out of a coma was the true love kiss of his mother. No one has ever made a stink about that!).
            Maleficent is one of the best movies I have seen in some time. I highly recommend watching it.