I also have this posted on Walt’s Basement at http://www.walts-basement.com (http://waltsbasement.yuku.com/topic/40808/master/1/. Join the Disney magic there every day!
Having waited what seems like an eternity for this film (as I have been a Maleficent fan long before it became cool), I approached my experience with as much of an open mind as I could muster. I am not a fan of Angelina Jolie (never have been), so I was not very enthusiastic when I heard they had cast her in the main role of my favorite villain of all time. In fact, I was quite upset. As the months went on and Disney released preview after preview, I began to come to terms with the casting and began to look forward to seeing the film more and more.
I went on opening day and saw the film in digital format (not in 3D) because I knew that if I saw it in the other formats there would be things that my eyes would likely miss due to the frame rate increase, and I wanted to see it ALL. I will go back and see it in other formats at a future date.
In my opinion, Angelina nailed this role, although her acting does have limitations in one particular scene (you all will know which one I mean so I will not spoil it for you). That scene just felt underdone and a bit awkward, but in all seriousness she really did a good job with the rest of it. Her companion, Diaval (played by Sam Riley) was also done well. Sharlto Copley portrays Stefan with obsessive conviction and the efforts he displays in his scenes is almost palpable. Elle Fanning, our Aurora, does not quite measure up to the acting that Jolie displays when they share a scene together, but in other scenes (such as with the three fairies), she holds her own just fine. Other members of the cast simply do not compare to the lead characters, but it really does not matter thanks to the excellent storyline.
The twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale is something I would have written. After all, I have said for YEARS now that Maleficent is a hero and a villain and has been misunderstood. It is a great tale, indeed, and long overdue. This film is geared towards all ages, so adults may leave with the thought as I did that it would have been amazing if it had been even darker, but this way it will not frighten young viewers much if at all. I really would have made it darker so there would have been more contrast in the characters by the end of the film. It is sweet in parts, humorous in others, and very well crafted however.
The film is rated PG, however I would have no issue whatsoever taking my children, even young children (ages 6+) to the movie. There are only a couple of minimally frightening parts in the film and one bit of violence that you would need to discuss. It is comparable to PG with Marvel films or something on evening television, and good parenting opportunity always results from discussion, not sheltering. My children and all of the younger ones in the theater LOVED it!
The Sets, Cinematography, and Effects
The scenery and sets are fabulous. Seriously. The CG effects are amazing and all of the creatures are completely believeable. The exception to this, in my opinion, was the three fairies. They looked a bit too CG for my taste in more than one scene. I would not be surprised to see this film nominated for an Academy Award for some of it next year. I wanted to live in either kingdom by the end of the film.
The score by James Newton Howard is well done, but it is not so influential as to stand out on it’s own or able to overshadow the story, as in some films. It is comforting and relaxing in places and tense and strong in others. It fits, but it is not the high calibur of some past Disney films. I liked it because it did not take away from the focus of each scene. Great balance there.
The Costumes and Makeup
The costumes and the makeup are sensational throughout the film. Pay close attention to adult Stephan in particular! The transformations that were done are nothing short of amazing for all of the cast. Rick Baker will get most of the credit for makeup, but in reality there was a team of nearly fifty people working to get appearances right. Costumes were designed by Anna B. Sheppard and they are remarkable for Maleficent and other key characters.
I was glad that Disney treated my favorite villain with the respect and dignity that she deserves, and all women (men, you too) will be able to see the symbolism behind the story that translates to some of us in reality. There’s a reason she is my favorite, and this story is told to illustrate it.
My rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars. EVERY DISNEY FAN SHOULD GO SEE IT!