A Tragedy Occurs: Disney Loses A Villain
Review of Maleficent
By Jacquelyn Phillips
The credits begin rolling as applause echoes through the crowd. Men and women—not boys and girls—fill every seat in the theatre, slowly filing out once they are sure the movie has ended. Everyone is alive with excited chatter. After all, we are the generation that grew up with the most famous and wicked villain of Disney history: Maleficent. However, as I remained sitting in my seat, one of the few who refused to clap, I realized that these people were not real Disney fans. If they were, there would have been an uprising.
Disney killed the greatest villain ever created.
Now, don’t think I’m spoiling it for you. She doesn’t actually die—in the metaphorical sense the writers of the screenplay murdered her in the worst way possible.
By taking away her throne.
According to a sentence I happened to glance upon during the credits, Maleficent is based off of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I own the Blue-Ray version of said movie and have watched it multiple times as an adult—I’ve even written papers on the gender roles present in the movie and how they are sexist in the worst ways. However, in an attempt to push away the cynic burrowing a home inside my heart and bring to life the optimistic girl that existed in my youth, I have come to appreciate the love stories present in classic Disney movies. Sleeping Beauty contains one of those ridiculous love stories that make it such a “fairy tale.” I’ve heard people bad-mouthing Disney for their “unachievable standards” and for “brainwashing little girls” into believing that a woman’s knight in shining armor exists. There is such a thing as a “Happily Ever After” even if the critics of the world believe this is nothing but a fantasy.
Who wouldn’t want to have Aurora’s life? Sure, she’s cursed by an evil sorceress to essentially die at the age of sixteen, only to be saved by “true love’s kiss.” And yes, the first sixteen years of her life are spent hidden beside three ditsy fairies in a cabin located somewhere far, far away. But that day, Once Upon A Dream, when Aurora meets Prince Philip, she just knows that he is her love—the one she is meant to be with forever and ever. He proves this when he rides to the castle on his noble steed, braves the fire-breathing dragon, and plants a kiss on the beautiful Princess who magically wakes up and lives the life of a Queen. Cheesy? Yes. Heartwarming? Yes. A fairy tale? Of course it is. That’s what brings it to life and makes little girls grow up believing that they can be a princess, that Prince Charming does exist in this cruel world.
The story that viewers don’t really understand is that of the evil sorceress: Maleficent. She’s frightening beyond all reason. Clothed in black, horns on her head, green skin and the ability to turn into a dragon—every little girl’s nightmare. I was one of those little girls. So, when I saw the first trailer for Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie preview before some other movie I was watching, I nearly screamed. The casting was perfect—I think they could have done better with Aurora, but maybe that’s my inner Disney speaking—and I counted down the days until May 30, 2014. The hype was unbelievable. Never in my life had I heard people praising the villain that haunted my worst nightmares, the villain I later learned to love when I grew into my cynical years. Mix in the fact that Angelina nailed Maleficent’s voice with one simple phrase (“Well, Well”) and the theaters were guaranteed to sell out all over the nation.
Overall, the movie left me highly disappointed and angry. Artists would say that any reaction is a good reaction, but I’d have to disagree. I write and rewrite fairy tales, so my expectations for this movie were enormously high. It had its great moments. The backstory of Maleficent’s childhood and her fall to evil did run a bit slow in the beginning, but I understood this was necessary to give the story credibility. Disney lovers needed to comprehend why Maleficent hated Aurora and why she sought revenge on the kingdom. The scene where Maleficent first enters the castle, infamous black crow present, was movie gold. Call me cliché (fairy tales are, aren’t they?) but my heart jumped straight out of my chest and tears nearly came to my eyes—Angelina Jolie’s wicked demeanor was flawless. Once Aurora was moved to the cabin in the woods with the three fairies who were far too idiotic, and honestly an insult to nannies everywhere, the storyline plummeted.
Don’t get me wrong; I laughed at the dry humor laced throughout the script, the innuendos and the innocent banter. I sat on the edge of my seat during the initial war. I wondered what was going to happen next over and over again.
I also understand that there are two sides to every story and I respect that. I do not respect Disney for completely changing the story of Sleeping Beauty and the dynamic between princess and villain. Talk about cheesy and predictable. Disney, stop listening to the haters on the Internet and bring back True Love’s First kiss. What you’re doing right now? It’s not working. It’s not Disney. Give little girls all over the world hope—hope that true love does exist, even if that means falling in love with a man one meets in the forest, dancing together and singing Once Upon A Dream. Keep your villains villainous.
Allow Maleficent to be who she really is: the most famous villain in Disney history who wanted Aurora to suffer for the sake of being evil. Give her back her throne! Wait until the movie comes out to DVD if you’re really that interested. It’s not worth the thirteen-dollar ticket—but maybe it’s worth the one dollar Redbox deal a few months from now.