Saturday, June 14, 2014


On lighter subjects, I saw Maleficient earlier and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm actually a huge fan of Disney's Sleeping Beauty film, yet I did not mind the changes to the plot, even if it meant that "Once Upon a Time" was not sung until the end credits. I was a little disappointed that Maleficient changed her servant into a dragon instead of herself, but the battle with the dragon in the castle was good, and I no longer feel the need to see the final Hobbit movie this December. Peter Jackson has milked the franchise too much.

I find it strange, though, that some movie critics didn't like Maleficent. They complained about her character not being a villain anymore. Why? Disney's recent hit Frozen also turned the traditional villain into a sympathetic character whose motives were misunderstood. Everybody loved that film and found it empowering, and enjoyed the fact that the sister's true love saved the day. That's what we got in Maleficient too. Why isn't it great for kids to see that good and evil are not black and white after all? That people can change for better or worse, being both hero and villain? I think that's great for today's complex world.

I liked seeing Maleficient as a fairy who was wronged and seeking revenge. The narrator's commentary about Man's greed and lust for power was meant to be applied to the entire kingdom of men, I think, for the previous king before Stephan also wanted to conquer the fairies' moor land, and he acted as if they feared and hated anything they did not understand. It was a good point of view shift, like seeing Europe's colonial conquests from the point of view of the people they conquered.

I did think that Maleficient turned genuinely dark for a time, when she crowned herself Queen and turned the previously democratic fairy-land into a monarchy. The thorns defending her kingdom from attack were probably necessary, but it may have felt like a prison to the people inside. They did not rebel, though, probably because they could understand the trauma of her losing her wings; perhaps they feared that such horrors would be done to them as well if Man got inside. Maleficient actually walked with difficulty, like she was in terrible pain in the first moments before she got her cane/wand. The only plot hole I saw was why Stephan entrusted the three ditzy fairies with Aurora. Did he think their magic would be any match for Maleficent had she tried to attack the baby? It was sad too that we didn't see much of the Queen who died while Stephan grew ever more mad and paranoid. I think the wings on display were like Poe's beating heart under the floor, reminding him of his guilt. It was great that Aurora realized what the wings meant, and that they needed to be restored to her fairy godmother.

I saw one movie critic say that Maleficient only saved Aurora at first because she wanted the child to grow up and fulfill the curse. Perhaps she also knew in her heart that Aurora was innocent of the sins of her father and grandfather. Then when Maleficent regretted her curse and tried to take it back, she looked desperate and powerless. Her act of revenge, in a moment of rage, could not be undone, (much like we cannot undo our past mistakes in Iraq, etc.) so I think it was a good moral lesson for kids. Actions have lasting consequences, so we should take care of making rash decisions. But moral lessons aside, it was a good film and Angelina Jolie was outstanding in it.

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