The third trailer for Maleficent came out today, oh boy. You can watch it below:
Well, it certainly looks cool and…
You know what, I can’t do this. Is anyone else skeptical as hell about this movie?
I mean, don’t get me wrong, it certainly looks cool and will probably end up doing Snow White and the Huntsman better than Snow White and the Huntsman did.* And yay female lead movies from a major studio that will likely feature some sort of character development for one or more leads!
But it’s the angle the film is going for is what bothers me. “Disney-fying” is the wrong word for it. That’s more of what you’d use to describe what Saving Mr. Banks did to P.L. Travers.** No, it’s Wicked-fying Maleficent.
If you’re not familiar, Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West is Gregory Maguire’s best selling book about the famous green skinned witch from The Wizard of Oz. Instead of painting her as a villain, we come to know her as a person named Elphaba and understand that everything she does was driven by good, but misunderstood intentions. The book was adapted into an immensely popular broadway play that starred Idina Menzel as Elphaba.
You can imagine that people have been wanting an adaptation of Wicked for years. Last I heard, ABC had the rights to do a miniseries based on the book, but haven’t done anything with it since 2011. The movie version of the musical has constantly been in limbo as well. Disney, apparently spending way too much money to buy out Marvel and Lucasfilms, decided at some point, “Hey, we can’t get the rights to Wicked. Let’s just do our own version… with Maleficent!”
Okay, that’s definitely oversimplifying it, but every description I’ve seen of the film is basically painting this as Maleficent: The Life and Times of the Mistress of All Evil and showing that she’s not really that bad. She’s just driven to protect the ones she loves!
“Maleficent” explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora (Elle Fanning) is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.”
Sure, fine, whatever. Except that’s not how Maleficent works.
People don’t like Maleficent because she’s driven for power, beauty, revenge, or a tragic backstory. People like Maleficent because she’s EVIL. Homegirl cursed a baby to die because she was mad that the king didn’t invite her to a party, not as some petty revenge for her homeland or something like that. When I don’t get invited to a party, I at best don’t care and at worst have something of a mental breakdown. And when some fairies try to mess up her plans, she brings all hell down on them and turns into a fearsome fire breathing dragon. Again… ALL BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T GET INVITED TO A PARTY. If this was all rooted in some revenge plot, I’m fairly certain Maleficent would have just pulled a scorched earth policy on the kingdom and been done with it.
Though, to be fair, better Wicked for an origin story than Oz the Great and Powerful.
I’m still going to give the movie a shot when it comes out on May 30 (aka my birthday), but unless it secretly involves her singing ‘Cell Block Tango,’ I don’t know how I feel about this secretly misunderstood Maleficent yet.
The wings are pretty bitchin’ though, I’ll give them that.
*Full disclosure: I like Snow White and the Huntsman. I even own it on Blu-Ray. Judge me. I don’t feel it anymore.
**Second full disclosure: I haven’t seen Saving Mr. Banks, but I have read up on all the changes made between Travers’ history and hatred of the film to what made it on screen in the Disney produced feature about the creation of Mary Poppins.