Year Released: 2014
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharito Copley, Sam Riley
(PG, 97 min.)
Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy
And from this slumber you shall wake
When true love's kiss the spell shall break. –Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty
It’s come to this. Disney deconstructs Disney. Old Walt must be turning over in his grave. This newest adaptation of the 1959 animated version fits in perfectly with the upended politically correct values of our age. The wicked witch is a victim, a beautiful kind fairy only made bitter by humanity’s plunder, greed, and treachery.
I am not suggesting that you keep the kiddies away from this visually dazzling Angelina Jolie vehicle. It’s certainly fun to watch. The trees as grizzled elders are reminiscent of those in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the fire breathing dragon only a little less formidable than Smaug, who was set loose in the recent Hobbit installment. But what do you expect from a crow only coaxed into flying serpenthood by Maleficent’s magic? And he’s on our side, too, and by that I mean, Maleficent’s side, since we the audience are ever so adroitly manipulated into cheering her on. And as we all have learned from our preening college professors and all knowing political pundits, evil doesn’t exist on its own, only as a last resort of victimhood, which the newest Disney venture serves up in stylish excess.
And there is the awkwardness of the title character’s name, too. Maleficent, a portmanteau of magnificent and malevolent taken from the original Disney tale, but strangely awkward here, as this name belongs to the sweet young fairy child when her benign magic consists of healing broken twigs and such.
So we now get Sleeping Beauty told from the evil witch’s point of view. Are Hollywood and the Disney studios, not content with dumbing down Greek Mythology (Hercules, Troy, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief etc.) now taking on Milton”s Paradise Lost by replacing Lucifer as the subversive protagonist with Angelina Jolie’s sweet fairy turned wicked sorceress?
After all, Lucifer was once an angel, too. His name literally means "bearer of light." And as much as some see God as the tyrant and Lucifer as the righteous rebel in Milton, a closer more in depth reading reflects what this wise commenter from Good Reads says:
When Milton writes from the perspective of Lucifer he is attempting to show the thought processes and the rationalizations of evil. True evil believes itself to be good. It presents its perversity as pleasure, its brutality as justice and its deprivation as freedom.
Such is the talent of Milton in revealing that process that for centuries people have sympathized with the Devil as a character. But doing so fundamentally misses the point that Milton was trying to make. Lucifer is the definitive unreliable narrator. It takes a more careful reading to find the logical fallacies, misrepresentations and twisting of the facts that Milton throws in to show his real meaning.
But the Disney studios, of course, lack the depth and texture of Milton. They are perfectly content to overturn the centuries’ old version of Sleeping Beauty; now the wicked witch becomes a sort of fairy godmother to the little exiled princess, and the perfect prince merely an empty suit (of armor) whose impotent kiss rivals the gentlemen on TV ads before they get their Cialis fix.
Are my two grandsons and I the only ones who note this diminishing of men that has invaded the animated world? First there was Frozen, which gave Junior Critic Gram “frostbite.” He noticed the diminished stature of the mountain man who helps Princess Anna.
Kristoff sells ice for a living, and his only friend is a reindeer named Sven, who he pretends talks to him. They also made a lot of jokes about Kristoff smelling bad, too, just like his reindeer buddy. The princes and kings didn’t come off that well either.
Even my 7 year old granddaughter, who loves Frozen and routinely belts out several of the songs word for word, sounding in my slightly biased ears, almost as professional as the real singers themselves, senses something amiss with the ending, where poor Kristoff ‘s only reward for his undying devotion to Princess Anna is a slick new sleigh and appointment as “Official Court Ice Master and Deliverer.”
“Do you think there is anything wrong with ending?” I asked as we watched the DVD together on what was, I think for her, the 7th time around.
Without a blink, she answered. “Yes, Kristoff and Anna should have gotten married.”
So, too, we get a kind of creepy feeling at the end of Maleficent, when the young prince, whose first kiss has been a failure, walks awkwardly into the happy family scene, at once morphing into the smiling sort of neutered window dressing usually provided by loyal political wives when their philandering husband holds a press conference.
Eureka! I have changed my mind. Fathers of the world, unite. Do not let your daughters be brainwashed into believing there is no such thing as true love! Why subsidize this latest Disney film where the closest we get to a good man is a crow forced into human form, arriving on the scene naked, filthy, and not particularly bright?
Even Walt would have stayed home!
Film Loving Foodie
Our review has been from an adult viewpoint and so is our recipe is Adults Only as well. I mean, you usher the popcorn-devouring-gummy-bear-sticky-handed beasties to the show, fork over the outrageous prices for admission, especially if you go for the 3 D version, and suffer through all the trips to the bathroom. Different Drummer thinks you parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents need your own reward.
We are going with Maleficent and her dark and sinister purple hues for our theme.
I really wanted to get ahold of the tempting Maleficent Cocktail from Cocktails by Cody, but all I can get is his description and the ingredients. You might want to experiment yourself if you like. Be careful, though, you might end up with a 100-year-long hangover. From the sly Cody himself:
Hands down my most precious drink that I’ve crafted to date. It’s the mistress of evil herself, Maleficent. The layering in this drink makes it look like an oil spill, and nothing short of vile. It is a mixture of tart, bitter, and sour that is a wonderful combination, while still having a strong vodka based backbone.
The ingredients are Black Vodka, Grape Schnapps, and Apple Pucker.
However, to play it safe and keep yourself bikini ready, here is the Skinny Blueberry Daiquiri.
Skinny Blueberry Daiquiri
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup white rum
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup ice
3 individual serving packets lo-cal or artificial sweetener (I used Stevia, but your favorite will work too!)
blender, fancy glass, blueberries and paper umbrella for garnish
1.Combine all ingredients in a blender cup. Process for about 30 seconds.
2. Pour into a chilled glass, and garnish as desired.