Why Maleficent Doesn’t Work

I miss you, creepy green-skinned dark sprite.
Source: author-quest.blogspot.com

I’ve voiced my displeasure with Disney many times in the past. That said, I feel I’ve always justified my stance. It’s not that I enjoy ragging on them and their work, it’s just that I consistently find flaws that ruin them for me. In the words of Bennett ‘The Sage’ White, “I don’t hate from ignorance, people. My hate is sharp, honed, and well-informed – the better to cut the subject, you see.”

To that end, I’m sure I’m not going to make many friends when I say that I couldn’t enjoy myself while watching Maleficent. But, I can at least defend my position.

Firstly, this is not a review of the film by any means. My family begged me to give it 15 minutes to grab me, I gave them the kindness of 30 minutes, and it failed.

Yes, you can take this to mean that I walked out on it; a feat that only two other films – Earth Girls Are Easy and Redneck Zombies – have ever achieved. So, I can’t review it in good conscience because I didn’t finish it. But I can tell you why I left it.

First is the point that I sense most people will debate me on; I personally don’t find Angelina Jolie a compelling actress. Granted that, as far as A-list actresses are concerned, she was probably the best pick in terms of looks. She looks like Maleficent, she just doesn’t sound, move, or act like her. She had a very one note performance that was very distracting to me and prevented me from taking in the scene (seriously, I almost started laughing at her ‘cries’ of pain and betrayal when her wings were clipped in the beginning).

Secondly, it was a movie that I had seen already. It’s the retelling of a classic story that paints the antagonist in a sympathetic light. Look, Disney – my drama club colleagues forced me to see Wicked and I already watched and enjoyed Frozen before the music was overplayed to hell. I want to see you do something new.

The sad part is that I could have forgiven the reuse of this formula if it weren’t for the subject that it was being applied to. Wicked worked because most people only know the source material –The Wizard of Oz – through the 1939 film. Frozen worked even better because the source material is a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale that’s over a century and a half old and mostly forgotten by this generation. In both cases, there was little in the way of preconceptions to impede my suspension of disbelief.

Maleficent, on the other hand, has to contend with over 50 years of Disney hammering the notion that it’s heroine is a heartless, demonic, bitch who will do anything if it means furthering her power or paying back a minor slight (her original motivation was being snubbed an invite to Aurora’s christening).

And make no mistake, she IS Disney’s big bad. From leading the takeover of The House of Mouse in Mickey’s House of Villain’s to playing the master manipulator of the Heartless in the Kingdom Hearts games, Maleficent is always at the front lines of the enemy army cackling like a woman possessed. The only time she wasn’t the Disney equivalent of a final boss in a video game was the book series The Kingdom Keepers and that’s only because she was second-fiddle to Chernabog (you know, that devil-looking guy from Fantasia).

Bottom line, you can only make a person who was nominated for AFI’s 50 Greatest Villains and whose most famous line of dialogue is, “Now shall you deal with me, o’ prince… and all the powers of hell,” so sympathetic… and Angelina will not help you in that goal.

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