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Film Review: 'Maleficent 3D'

Kathy Zerbib |
May 29, 2014 | 1:02 a.m. PDT

Senior Entertainment Editor

What made the Queen of the Moors turn evil? (Walt Disney Studios)
What made the Queen of the Moors turn evil? (Walt Disney Studios)
You don't really know the story until you hear both sides. Maleficent's side of the story is a visual masterpiece that comes together like - What else? - magic.

"Maleficent" tells the story of a fairy who underwent a bad streak. Angelina Jolie portrays the villain from "Sleeping Beauty" like you've never seen her before… Which you haven't. Oh, but you will.

To begin, this movie was viewed in 3D. Do many 3D movies deserve to be made in 3D? No. Did this movie deserve to be made in 3D? Meh. Save the three bucks and watch it flat, unless you have a burning desire to see three little pixies dance in front of your face.

READ MORE: The Ten Best And Worst 3D Movies

Right from the beginning, "Maleficent" is a beauty to behold. From the elaborate scenery to the vibrant Moor creatures to Jolie's sinister appearance, color is of the essence. The forest kingdom Maleficent resides in is a burst of lights, fairies and glistening water. Even when the land of the Moors is under Maleficent's cold reign, there is a beauty to the darkness and misery that lingers around the area.

Yes, the imagery is in-your-face and oversized, but that doesn't make it terrible. On the contrary, especially in 3D, the clash of color shades only adds to the spectacle onscreen. Battle scenes are hectic, and understandably so. It's war, after all.

In the classic Disney version of "Sleeping Beauty," Maleficent is portrayed as a frosty antagonist who wants little Aurora to sleep forever. In the new Disney live-action version, we get the "backstory" to how Maleficent got to be so evil (Or is she?). 

Sidenote: Kudos to Jolie's makeup team. Maleficent is a horned fairy whose looks could double for a witch ("Fairy? She's a fairy…?" - Overheard in the theater). She has two strong wings that drag behind her as she walks. Her face has a green tinge and her sculpted cheekbones are to die for. She dresses in dark colors and sports a menacing, tight-lipped look. In costume, Jolie is terrifying, tantalizing and terrific all at once.

Jolie is the perfect pick for a villain of this caliber. She successfully executes an intimidating presence and she has mastered the no-smile, calm regard that is so necessary for this role. Maleficent is a character this actress was born for.

READ MORE: 7 Actors Who Double As Role Models

In "Maleficent," we see the evil/not-evil fairy as a young girl. We witness her fall in love, and then get her heart shattered by betrayal and human greed. We pinpoint where exactly her life spiraled out of control. We rationalize with her hatred and sorrow. We support her need for vengeance. We see her interact with "Beasty," her nickname for Aurora (Played by Elle Fanning). We go through a journey with Maleficent herself, and we feel her pain.

The plot for "Maleficent" goes much deeper than expected, and Maleficent proves to be much more interesting than previously considered.

This movie, if for no other reason, is a profound take on an age-old fairytale. This is storytelling that captivates. Fantasy retellings, "as told by the villain's point of view," require major creativity to pull off. The filmmakers of "Maleficent" do just that.

The original "Sleeping Beauty" story isn't extremely memorable. It's not a movie that stands as one of Disney's best, as classic as it is. This movie has the skeleton of its original, but its creative tweaks are what truly elevate the new version. 

Granted, the movie is rather predictable. However, that's not news to anyone who's seen Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" or is vaguely aware of the storyline. Of course the movie sticks to the general idea of the initial concept. We're seeing a different point of view, not a new story altogether.

The film is rated PG, a fair assessment. The army of tree monsters, the dragon and even Maleficent are scary… But not worth tightly covering children's eyes over. This is a movie to bring the kids to.

READ MORE: 2014 Summer Movie Trailer Roundup

"Maleficent" opens May 30 in theaters and is sure to be a summer hit. Watch the trailer below.

Reach Senior Entertainment Editor Kathy Zerbib here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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