“Maleficent” Is Magnificent

If you loved Ever After, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, or Willow, you should definitely make the effort to see Maleficent on a big screen. The CGI is excellent, the storytelling is workmanlike, and the actors will break your heart — not just the two stars (Jolie-Pitt and Fanning) but Sam Riley as Diaval, Maleficent’s faithful lieutenant, and even the critically maligned Sharlto Copley as the fairy-tale “hero” whose ambition leads him to forge his own doom.

Joan Acocella has an excellent, though spoilerific, review in the New Yorker:

The sexual politics of Disney’s “Maleficent” are a complicated business. The most important thing, or at least the basic thing, is that the moviemakers took a villainess and turned her into a sympathetic character… [A]n innocent princess, Aurora (her name means “sunrise”), is condemned to death, or to a permanent coma, by an evil fairy, supposedly because, by mistake, the fairy was not invited to the princess’s christening party. A lot of readers and movie- and ballet-watchers will notice that, at the party, the invited guests are all dressed in pretty clothes and have nice manners, while the evil fairy wears a slick black garment, simultaneously deluxe and sinister, and arrives at the palace in a carriage drawn by rats or the like—circumstances that raise a doubt as to whether her exclusion was, in fact, due to a clerical error. Might she not be a reiteration of an old trope: Eris, the goddess of discord, who threw the golden apple, thereby precipitating the Trojan War? Might she not be that thing we’ve all been told about, the thing than which Hell hath no greater fury: a woman scorned?…

It is not as simple as that, of course — it never is — but it’s both a ripping yarn and a metaphor about the once-in-a-lifetime actions we think will make us powerful and the slow accretion of small daily actions that actually give us power…

70 replies
  1. 1
    Little Boots says:

    it does look fun.

  2. 2
    Little Boots says:

    everyone wake the hell up.

  3. 3
    Little Boots says:

    waiting for the BJers, oh, waiting for a BJ.

  4. 4
    lamh36 says:

    I saw Maleficient and I liked it. I found the princess pretty boring, but whenever Jolie was on the screen it was electric for sure.

    But I guess I am alone in wishing that they had to frame a “woman scorned” or “woman wronged” backstory.

    I kinda have always like Maleficent as the evil fairy. I kinda wanted her to just stay evil.

    But I get why they did it I guess, and I know alot of people liked the feminist undertones to the story.

    But I’ll say this again even though I’m sure I’ve said it enough, I have seen pretty much every “big new” movie that has come out so far, and the only one of them that I am still talking about and I still recommend to people is Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow. The character was not your usual female heroine in these action flicks, she was more bad ass than Tom Cruise’s character and just such a pleasure to watch.

    Maleficent is the obvious contender for the strong female main character, but Emily Blunt’s “Angel of Verdun” should definitely get a look too.

  5. 5
    lamh36 says:

    @Little Boots: LOL.

    I suspect we are the only ones awake right now…lol. I’m working a 12 hr overnight shift since 6pm (CST) last night. What’s your excuse?

  6. 6

    I loved the movie. I like ‘the villain is the hero’ stories, fairy tales, and strong heroines, so I would have liked the movie even without the context.

    But context is important. Maleficent goes above and beyond these things because it’s a giant ‘fuck you’ to the unhealthy themes that have dominated Disney Princess Movies up until now. Aurora has a personality, her own goals, and (unlike, say, Belle), she never loses them. They aren’t a paper mask over the girl who gets the prince. Romance is not the plot of the story. Maybe things work out with the prince. Maybe they don’t. He’s a minor element. The movie is about Maleficent finding the good in herself again after a terrible betrayal drove her into rage and cruelty. To a lesser extent, it’s about Aurora becoming queen, and the kind of queen she wants to be. It points out the messed up nature of the kissing a sleeping princess.

    Most importantly, it specifically denies the ‘true love’ trope that has dominated Disney films. Love isn’t about meeting the right guy and that will fix everything. You certainly can’t rely on that first rush of passion defining your life. True love is a relationship that builds up over time, of sharing and being good (and sometimes bad) to each other. It may or may not be romantic.

    This makes two movies in a row (with the even better Frozen) to defy the Disney Princess tradition. It doesn’t need to be a central point forever, but right now there’s a lot of damage of telling little girls they can be independent but then showing them your life is actually defined by who you marry to fix.

  7. 7

    Personally, I had to fix my blood sugar and now I can go back to bed. I’ll be crotchety for awhile yet, but I’ll be able to sleep so who cares?

  8. 8
    Little Boots says:


    none, I should have one, but just desperation.

  9. 9
    Little Boots says:

    again, you goobers. this is the fun place. this is the people that stay awake and have witty comments all night.


  10. 10
    Little Boots says:

    this is why i miss omnes, this right here.

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    Aurora (her name means “sunrise”)

    Close, but no cee-gar. Dawn (in Spanish), or Morning (in Latin).

    Perhaps there’s something else somewhere in the review that’s correct.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Amir Khalid says:

    Maleficent is of an ilk with movies like Snow White and The Huntsman, or Frozen, or Brave. Those stories basically cut the least interesting character, the Handsome Prince who has nothing to do but be handsome and win the princess. In the 1937 Snow White all he does is sing one song (which is titled One Song and goes, “One song, I have but one song …”). Then you see what you can do with the remaining characters — like making Snow White a warrior princess, say, or [SPOILER ALERT!!] having Maleficent redeem herself as a person.

    Disney used to obsess on getting to the wedding at the end of the Princess story. (With The Little Mermaid, it even tacked on a wedding that completely ruined Andersen’s point.) With its original Sleeping Beauty cartoon, Disney cut the story off in the middle, at the wedding; Perrault’s story goes on to describe Sleeping Beauty’s MIL-from-hell. Now that Disney doesn’t care so much abut weddings, its movies are so much better, and it no longer does the violence to the Western cultural heritage that it once did.

    PS: Refreshed before hitting submit. Just wanted to second what Frankensteinbeck said.

  14. 14
    tsquared2001 says:

    On vacation and although I am not wishing for rain, if it happens (and it will) Maleficent will be the number one priority

  15. 15
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Little Boots: You know, bastards is a word not used nearly enough.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    SectionH says:

    @Little Boots: Jetlagged, that’s my excuse. Not that I say anything about BJ except


  18. 18
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Amir Khalid: Yeah. Used to obsess. My Disney experience was all about watching parental figures die.

  19. 19
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Amir Khalid: Oh for fuck’s sake. Because I did click on that link and just a bit unhappy with you. Trigger warning, homie


  20. 20
    PurpleGirl says:

    One of the last movies I saw was Snow White and the Huntsman, which I enjoyed. I’m looking forward to the costumes in Maleficient, although I realize she will be more constrained in that area.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    SectionH says:

    @Amir Khalid: Srsly? Well, ok. I personally loved Fantasia the first time I saw it, age 4 or 5, even the scary parts, and srsly haven’t really liked much Disney did since, come to think of it.

  23. 23
    raven says:

    I got up to check on Arthur.

  24. 24
    tsquared2001 says:

    @PurpleGirl: I just can’t get behind Kristen Stewart. Young girl sucks big time.

    The older I get, the more that I need somebody, anybody, who can act in a movie. Special effects movies without some acting talent are the suck.

  25. 25
    NotMax says:


    Heh. That made me stop and think about John Gielgud.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    NotMax says:


    Parental death and…

    …the villain’s song.

    That was the glaring omission in Aladdin. No villain song.

  28. 28
    tsquared2001 says:

    @SectionH: I pretended to be a conductor for months after I saw Fantasi

  29. 29
    PurpleGirl says:

    @tsquared2001: Maybe because it’s almost 4AM but I don’t understand your reference.

    My comment was about the costumes in Snow White and the Huntsman; did I mention Kristen Stewart.

  30. 30
    tsquared2001 says:

    I am just gonna leave this here.


  31. 31
    tsquared2001 says:

    @PurpleGirl: Well, then my bad.

    Although, not being a design person, Snow White and the Huntsmans sucked simply because of Kristen Stewart. And I say that while NOT being a Charlize Theron fan

  32. 32
    lamh36 says:

    Anybody awake…welp I bought my tickets to Hawaii…roundtrip from Oakland $417 from Hawaiian Airlines, November 3rd to November 10th, 6 beautiful nights in Honolulu. I’ll be spending my birthday on some beach somewhere in Hawaii!!! I even bought my one way ticket to San Francisco (thanks to a Southwest credit I only paid $89) and in 2 weeks time, I’ll be buying my one way ticket back from Hawaii and back to NOLA. Time to start checking out Hotel prices!

    This is why I hate working overnight. Nothing to do but spend money online…hmph :-D

  33. 33
    SectionH says:

    @tsquared2001: lol

  34. 34
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Amir Khalid: I don’t normally think of German as a beautiful sounding language but that number and that singer could change my mind. (And my paternal roots are in Austria.)

    I have to spend some time looking around the intertubes — those clips from a musical about Gustav Klimt have me intrigued.

    ETA: I took French in Junior High and German in college. After some time, I began to stutter in both languages and learning them came to a near halt. Stuttering in German is not a pleasant sound.

  35. 35
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Amir Khalid: Ok then. Much better.

  36. 36
    scav says:

    @lamh36: Congrats! I could send you a wish list if you have a continuing need to spend. :)

  37. 37
    NotMax says:


    Shall put out an advance alert on the coconut wireless. :)

    Don’t forget to vote absentee ballot, as you’ll be in paradise for Election Day.

  38. 38
    Amir Khalid says:

    In Miss Twilight’s defence, Snow White Warrior Princess is a tricky concept to get one’s head around.

  39. 39
    SectionH says:

    @lamh36: Yay, you! Hawaiian is a good airline. I actually work hard to keep my miles going with them, even though most of my flying is on Delta. HNL is usually a bit of a zoo, and the signage is mostly non-existent, but srsly, Aloha spirit will get you through.

    ETA: plz google Brudda IZ before you go, and listen beyond the damn rainbow.

  40. 40
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’m self-taught in German. Les Mis on the YouTubes (don’t tell Cameron Mackintosh!) has helped me a lot with my listening comprehension of the language.

  41. 41
    tsquared2001 says:

    @NotMax: True that. But it did have Robin Williams in the role of his life. Fuck Mork from Ork, he was MADE to the play the genie.

    Some bad guys songs from Disney:

    Gaston – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuJTqmpBnI0

    And then Ursula – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AaLdP8Kd_8

    And Scar – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWe6f9uR7qk

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    One of the reasons the Prince has so little screen time in Snow White is that the artists felt they couldn’t make him convincing as an animated character. There are story sketches of unproduced scenes that would have made him more prominent (like a whole subplot of him being kidnapped and imprisoned by the evil Queen), but they ended up cutting his scenes instead. FWIW, even the critics at the time complained because the Prince had so little screen time, which is why the roles for the princes steadily grew more prominent (from the Prince to Prince Charming to Prince Phillip).

  43. 43
    John Revolta says:

    D-d-d-d-das ist a-a-alles, volk.

  44. 44
    rikyrah says:

    Hey lamh, good to hear about the plane tickets. Seems like it is all falling into place.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    Movie-wise, we just got back from seeing 1776 (and, yes, it is 1-freakin’-thirty in the morning). The director was there and the version we saw is a “work in progress” digital version that will be released on Blu-Ray in the next couple of years. Still probably the best musical ever made about the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

    One of the stories the director told clarified how the “Cool Conservative Men” number was cut from the film — when it was a huge Broadway hit, they did a special live performance at the White House for Richard Nixon. William Safire (who was a Nixon aide at the time) asked them before the show to cut “Cool Conservative Men” and “Stay Sharp,” but backed down when the director refused. When the movie version was made, Nixon called Jack Warner personally and asked him to cut the number, and Warner agreed, but didn’t destroy the negative as was his usual practice. Years later, when Sony acquired Columbia, they did a massive search through their negatives (which are literally stored in salt mines) and finally managed to come up with the sequence and restore it.

  46. 46
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Amir Khalid: No kidding.

    Give me Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine where I have the sense that its close to for realz but spare me that Snow White or Guienevere are some type action hero.

  47. 47
    rikyrah says:

    I saw Malificent and I loved it. I enjoyed the story and adored Jolie.

  48. 48

    I liked it. Had a good date though too so. Who knows.

    Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones were magnificent, if nothing else. I think there were some eyes above them and a body attached at some point, but they really stole the show.

    Sad that she didn’t turn into a dragon.

    Sleeping Beauty was my favorite Disney movie as a child. “Oh sword of truth, fly swift and sure…”
    Ah, but I was a big ‘ol gay dorkface nerd back then. And now, but it’s cool now.

  49. 49
    rikyrah says:

    Did you see Tyrant on FX?
    I am enjoying it so far.

  50. 50
    tsquared2001 says:

    @rikyrah: I don’t get the haterade for Angelina. She can be an excellent actress. She out acted Winona in that white girls be crazy movie

  51. 51
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne: 1776 on TCM at 1:30 today. Had a friend who staged “scenes from” musicals as fundraisers for Masonic lodges in NYC. I worked with him (as director’s assistant) on a production he did of 1776. In the main Masonic building at 23rd Street in Manhattan there is a suite of rooms decorated in colonial style. That’s where we did 1776. It worked so well.

  52. 52
    WereBear says:

    @Amir Khalid: it no longer does the violence to the Western cultural heritage that it once did

    As a child, the movies led me to the books while led me to shocked disgust at how they distorted the themes and story to do the same movie over and over.

    I keep hearing they got better. I guess I’ll explore it one of these days.

  53. 53
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Major Major Major Major (formerly J.Ty):

    I was not a fan of Sleeping Beauty or Song Of the South.

    But I do like Barbra’s version of the Sleeping Beauty song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0mURZzBpnE

  54. 54
    tsquared2001 says:

    @WereBear: Youngsters.

  55. 55
    Amir Khalid says:

    Someday My Prince Will Come is from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. You’re thinking of Once Upon A Dream.

  56. 56
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Amir Khalid: Got me there. And I should know better than that since Barbra’s concert brought up that exact point. Dammit.

  57. 57
    lamh36 says:

    @Major Major Major Major (formerly J.Ty): me too. sleeping beauty is one of my favs and I was very disappointed that Maleficent didn’t turn into a dragon

  58. 58
    rikyrah says:

    I love Jolie. I think she can do so much with her face, that she doesn’t need dialogue to move you.

  59. 59
    tsquared2001 says:

    @rikyrah: She can do some clever shit without dialogue. That scene at the bar-b-que in Pushing Tin, she has like three lines but her contempt for the John Cusak character is quite clear.

  60. 60
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Major Major Major Major (formerly J.Ty):

    Sad that she didn’t turn into a dragon.


    Oh, well, I guess they figured they already did the best Maleficent-turns-into-a-dragon they possibly could.

  61. 61
    shelley says:

    If you loved Ever After, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, or Willow,

    Hmmmm, I’m a huge fantasy fan, but I hated Crystal, Labyrinth and Willow. The 80’s seemed to be a bad time for fantasy films. (Do we dare to mention ‘Legend’ with a puckish Tom Cruise? Shudder.) But I’ll try and keep an open mind.

  62. 62
    Steeplejack says:


    “Puckish Tom Cruise.” Shudder indeed.

  63. 63
    NotMax says:


    “Legend” lost me right from from the get-go.

    First words in the prologue are something like “Once long ago, before there was such a thing as time.”

    First shot in the film itself? A clock.

  64. 64

    As an author, this is a major issue for me. I get pretty irritated at how Disney treats the books they adapt. It’s not just that they change them. They go out of their way to reverse the original intention of the author.

    You can get away with this in fairy tales, which are an evolving oral tradition. Adapting books… well, Mary Poppins is a bitch in her books, and Travers was furious at the Disney adaptation. Rumor (the details of the will are not public) is that she forbade in her will any American adaptations ever again. That may or may not be true, but it is how mad she was. I’ve never read Fox and the Hound, but apparently it is one dark story nothing like the silly movie.

    My personal peeve is the Rescuers, because the books were some of my favorites as a child. Literally nothing except the names and the idea of mice saving prisoners is the same. In the books Bernard isn’t a fat, shy schlub. He’s a big burly working mouse, humble but very take-charge when the going gets tough. Bianca is a beautiful, charming, brave, but utterly useless and incompetent aristocrat. The major and discreetly handled theme of the books is their burning lust (only eventually love) for each other, and how they never act on it. The culmination of the series is Bernard asking Bianca to marry him… and she turns him down. The movies spit on all of this.

    PS – Interesting side note. The Mary Poppins Wikipedia entry has blatantly been scrubbed by Disney of the controversy, with vague implications that Travers was hand-in-hand with Disney and the fight shuffled off onto other pages.

  65. 65
    West of the Rockies says:

    I very much enjoyed Maleficent. Elle Fanning has gravity and a sense if wonder, and Jolie nails her role. The new Studio Gibli film When Marnie Was There looks fabulous. Check out the YT trailer.

  66. 66
    Mnemosyne says:


    The Travers/Disney story is … complicated. There were a lot of things about the movie she didn’t like, but she didn’t have any problem cashing the massive royalty checks she got from her 5% of the gross profits.

  67. 67
    Mnemosyne says:


    So apparently when you try and do a late edit, you end up as “undefined.” Weird!

    Anyway, I was trying to add a link to this New Yorker article from 2005, which shows that it’s not quite the simplistic Disney exploited the author of Mary Poppins! story that some people want it to be.

  68. 68
    WaterGirl says:


    There were a lot of things about the movie she didn’t like, but she didn’t have any problem cashing the massive royalty checks she got from her 5% of the gross profits.

    I don’t see anything about those two things that would make them mutually exclusive.

    I don’t see why she should be criticized for cashing the checks, especially if she was unhappy with the film.

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne (iPad Mini) says:


    Taking the money and being unhappy with the result are not mutually exclusive (though Travers did get a second bite at the apple since she co-wrote the book for the Broadway musical version in the 1990s — yes, she outlived Walt by more than 30 years).

    It’s the narrative that she was somehow cheated and unfairly exploited by Disney that annoys me. Getting 5% of the gross plus $200K in cash in 1960 made her a rich woman, plus she was able to write and sell three successful book sequels after the movie came out because it renewed interest in the originals. To me, that doesn’t equal being cheated. Travers was obviously a shrewd negotiator and to claim that she was a weak little woman who was steamrolled by Disney doesn’t fit reality at all.

  70. 70
    Anton Sirius says:


    I just can’t get behind Kristen Stewart. Young girl sucks big time.

    I wouldn’t say she’s completely without talent – she did a nearly spot-on young Joan Jett in the Runaways.

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