Sunday, June 01, 2014

Maleficient (2014)

She is the mistress of Evil from Walt Disney's 1959 creation, Sleeping Beauty and now the question is whether Angelina Jolie can pull it off? The teasers which portrayed her devious look with ghoulish contact lens, prosthetics for her cheek bones and heavy horns certainly garnered attention and the icing on the cake was Jolie's baby girl, Vivenne who played the toddler princess Aurora. The buzz is that the kids were too scared to face Jolie in her evil avatar and it was only Vivenne who walked the talk. I wonder if it is destiny calling, given that the parents do not want their children to become actors!

I was looking forward to an element of sinister fun since Jolie is famed for playing intense dark roles in her previous performances. However, I think the four year hiatus and motherhood with six children seemed to have softened her a bit. The beautiful and carefree Malificient, protector of the Moors from humans lets her curiosity get the better of her. A human, a little boy Stefan who steals from the Moors is apprehended by the protectors and Malificient retrieves the stolen good and returns it to its home. This sets the relationship between the fairy and the human rolling. ""Iron burns fairies, tells  Maleficient to Stefan when they shake hands and the iron ring on his finger burns her, not realising her Achilles' heel will be used to kill her. He throws it away that very instant and her heart melts. But humans are ambitious and Stefan wants to rule the kingdom. As they grow up, Stefan forgets Maleficient until one day, Stefan hears the king proclaim that whosoever can tame the protector of the Moors will get his daughter's hand in marriage. His moment had arrived. 

Stefan returns to the Moors and convinces Maleficient he loves her and feeds her with a sleeping potion. Not having the courage to kill her, he instead cuts her glorious wings leaving her for dead. Stefan goes on to become King, while Maleficient her pure heart filled with revenge and hatred returns with her pet crow (Rescued from near death), Diaval (sounds like the Devil) who acts as her wings. From time to time, she gathers information from Diaval about Stefan, planning for the opportune moment to punish Stfean for his betrayal. Then princess Aurora is born. Now her moment had arrived.

None from the Moorland is invited for Aurora's christening, but three little fairies arrive to bless the child. Maleficient arrives uninvited and is insulted by the king. She pretends to be unpreturbed and as a gesture of goodwill, blesses the child. She blesses the child with grace and beauty and before anyone could react, curses that on her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a death-like sleep, and as a reprieve when Stefan falls on his knees and begs her, softens the curse that a true love's kiss will bring her out of her slumber. She curses thus because of her betrayal and her belief that there is no true love in the world.

The twist to the tale is the question of what is true love. Is it only a man's kiss? It was interesting to watch, but on the whole, I felt a little let down by Jolie's performance. The scene where Maleficient is expected to cry out in anguish when she realises her wings had been cut was played out so poorly. In some parts of the movie, her lines look trivial and poorly delivered. Barring the beautiful visuals and creativity, the movie, which was solely riding on Jolie fails to deliver. 

Ironically, it could put the audience to sleep. Only a bag of butter pop-corn can save you.

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