Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jolie casts her spell..

‘Maleficent’ does not follow the traditional fairytale penned in Brothers Grimm’s ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ For a start director Robert Stromberg gives us a peek into the origin of Maleficent, the most powerful fairy who protects the Moors from human invasion. However despite her efforts a human manages to gain access to the Moors and later into Maleficent’s heart.

Overcome by greed Stephan betrays Maleficent to secure his dream of becoming king. Furious, the fairy, now deprived of her strongest asset - her wings, swears revenge. She gets the opportunity to do so by unleashing the fairy tale’s famous curse on the king’s first born, Aurora.

However despite her intentions Maleficent becomes Aurora’s surrogate mother. Watched from afar by the same woman who vengefully cursed her at birth the blissfully ignorant princess first encounters her supposed foe as a toddler, sneaking away from the incompetent fairies who were assigned to watch over her till she turns 16.

‘A true love’s kiss’

One of the most dismaying features about the film is that Maleficent is not terrifying enough. This might have been done deliberately because the dame is a good fairy turned evil who regains her previous powerful and kindhearted avatar. There has been much talk about Jolie’s look before the movie hit theaters and the rumour mill said that she was so ferocious that child actors who auditioned for the role of the young Aurora had refused to share the screen with her! Therefore those who had looked forward to seeing a creepy version of the evil fairy are in for a huge disappointment.

Another aspect which both works for and against ‘Maleficent’ is the fact that Aurora is woken up from her death-like sleep only after ‘a true love’s kiss’ - one given by Maleficent herself. Though a mysterious prince who had crossed her path once is dragged into the picture and locks lips with the sleeping beauty, it is ultimately her supposed nemesis, Maleficent, who manages to break her curse because she has been growing fond of the young lass throughout the years.

The strength behind this chapter is that the audiences are overcome with emotion when they witness the heart tugging relationship which has built up between the girl and the evil fairy who had indeed taken on the role of her ‘fairy godmother’ as she mistakes her for. However those who have witnessed Rupert Sanders’ ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ would be able to recall that a similar incident took place while attempting to wake Snow White from her death.

William who is in love with the young princess kisses her first but since she does not budge leaves her side believing that she is dead. The Huntsman professes his regret for not saving Snow White, kisses her and breaks the spell.
Therefore in both movies the princesses’ true loves are not the stereotyped Prince Charming but ones who have been touched by the princesses’ lively spirit through their association with them.

Chills down

Another loophole in the project is that the filmmakers give Maleficent a saintly and spotless past. Therefore they have ignored the origin of her name which is a combination of ‘malevolent’ and ‘magnificent’ thereby suggesting that she is harmful from birth. Stromberg has taken the venom out of the stereotyped villainess and had rewritten the story to make us sympathize with her plight. The director has also brought back the visual glamour he has used in projects like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ into ‘Maleficent.’ It is a visual treat to witness in 3D on the wide screen. Angelina Jolie is no doubt the star of the movie. She is captivating as Maleficent in her nature inspired attire, headpiece, milk coloured flawless complexion, scarlet lips and glowing eyes. She pours genuine emotions into a character driven to vengeance against a king by an act of treachery and barbarity. She howls in anguish after discovering that her wings are missing that is probably the only moment which sends chills down the audience’s spine.

Elle Fanning make a pretty picture as Princess Aurora. However she is too cartoonist with her constant smiles to take the audience’s breath away. Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville make three Stooges inspired fairy godmothers who also resemble Tinker Bell in their miniature versions. Apart from Sharlto Coplety who plays King Stephan, there are no other male characters which stand out in the story. - Ruwini Jayawardana