“Well, do you know better?” A question that Angelina Jolie poses to Michelle Pfeiffer as their two characters go head-to-head in Disney’s latest installment of their ongoing live-action remakes.
Jolie plays a conflicted fairy known as Maleficent, who happens to be the godmother of Aurora, played by Elle Fanning. Fanning’s Aurora is known to the audience as Sleeping Beauty, but, as the fairy tale goes, she has been lifted from the curse and now lives with her godmother in the woods.
Pfeiffer’s character, Ingris, plays a queen whose son is in love with Aurora, and he has asked Aurora for her hand in marriage. Ingris despises the magical creatures as they impede on the lives of humans by taking up land that she wishes to have. This film takes up the classic storyline of humans versus creatures.
Pfeiffer continues to reprise her roles as a villainous woman, like her roles as Catwoman in Batman Returns and Mrs. Hubbard in Murder on the Orient Express, as she devises a plan to get rid of the magical creatures, especially Maleficent.
It’s no surprise that Disney is keeping up with the times to feature two female lead roles in the film, but neither role painted a good picture for female-led antagonist roles for the future.
Disney attempted to make Jolie and Fanning’s characters find a way to be independent, but they have a hard time separating themselves from the help of others. Pfeiffer’s character is too wild in her methods and, quite frankly, her script was poorly written and a challenge for Pfeiffer to work with.
Something new to the development of this film was that Jolie’s screen time was significantly less compared to the first Maleficent film back in 2015. Part of the reason for the shortened screen time was because of the characters added to the story of Maleficent’s species and Ingris’ kingdom.
Disney goes more deeply into the fairy tale lore than the audience can take and they show that Maleficent isn’t the only one of her kind. The company also made good use of bringing new characters into the mix so that they weren’t making a similar film to the first, but their delivery fell short in introducing their new characters.
Overall, the writing and acting of supporting actors was sub-par in creating a detailed look into a beloved fairy tale.
Luckily, some of the movie is saved by the plotline and cinematography used in the film. The film uses a budgeted-CGI, an impressive feat for Disney considering their CGI-track record with Marvel and other live-action films, to create the scenery and make the creatures look realistic.
The audience will see crafted images put together by famous Disney artists to make the film’s aesthetic appeal capture the “ooo’s” and “ah’s” of the audience. The story is well laid out for the film to be successful, but what hinders the achievement of the film is the fairy tale background itself.
Take away the story of Sleeping Beauty and the characteristics of a kingdom and the audience is left with a simple story about humans versus creatures.
Since the first film, it’s always been a question whether Jolie fits this role. She does a good job, but unfortunately, it isn’t enough to help Disney look like they are able to make their own movies without the help of partner companies like Pixar and Marvel.
This film doesn’t close the door for Disney’s live-action remakes, however, as they are slated to release several more in the next few years. To answer Jolie’s question at the beginning of this article, I think the audience should know better than to see this movie.