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31 May 2014

Maleficent (Film Review): "Being Evil Never Looked so Good"

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Re-imagining old Disney-like versions of fairy tales is now in vogue.  I think I am not alone in asserting that fairy tale films, television shows and books made during the last century are psychologically damaging to young girls. Stepmothers are wicked; non-traditional beauties are ugly; the ruling class or royalty reign supreme and peasants are happily serving their kings and queens without question. Magical creatures will save us, and girls must remain pure and wait for her handsome prince to come and rescue her from her problems. Girls must dream of being a princess than being the Prime Minister, a kindergarten teacher, a soldier, a scientist or a mother. And do not forget, it is all right to marry the first man that you meet. Thankfully, films like “Happily Ever After,” “Shrek,” “Mirror Mirror,” “Frozen,” and stage musicals like “Wicked” have successfully liberated one-dimensional fairy tale characters from their antiquated narrative cages.

Disney’s new “Maleficent” is the latest attempt to modernize a well-loved fairy tale, and make it palatable to new viewers. Like “Wicked,” the villainess is the center of the narrative. Unfortunately, “Maleficent” stuck to the old simplified Disney template; nevertheless, the production design is commendable and Maleficent’s outfits look as if they were taken from Vivienne Westwood haute couture collection.  Perhaps the hype before the film worked against it in the end. The initial trailers may have increased the expectations of viewers. Personally, the trailer alone already encapsulated the best the film has to offer.

Still, “Maleficent” is worth your money because Angelina Jolie is mesmerizing as the supermodel fairy/witch.  You can interpret “Maleficent” as a feminist fairy tale (the best that Disney can manage without being too radical). You can also say that the film is a story of a good woman betrayed by love, or a story of a drag queen jilted by a straight lover in exchange for power and prestige in the heterosexual world.

However you see the film, expect many people wearing “Maleficent” costumes next Halloween so start dieting, practice pouting your lips, and delivering perfectly timed evil laugh and deadpan witty retorts. (RATING: 3/5)

P.S. Angelina Jolie rules!

A PARODY (Click images to enlarge)


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