Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection
As I watched Maleficent toggle between magic woodlands filled with trembling mushroom people and grim battle scenes steeped in markedly misanthropic revenge tales, I had to ask myself the question: who is this movie for? Too shallow for adults, too dark and dull for kids, yet still too cutesy for teens... I left the theater certain that Angelina Jolie's perplexing Disney twist wasn't for anyone, but in assessing the aforementioned elements as pieces of a puzzle rather than conflicting forces, I've come to realize just the opposite: Maleficent is for all people, because Maleficent is about all people. To be more precise, the film's structure is modeled after the lifespan of a human being.
Like all people, Maleficent starts out simple, unbearably bright, and cloyingly enchanted with everything around it — as a lass, fairy princess Maleficent (played by a preteen Isobelle Molloy) scrambles through her fairy-laden home, giggling like a Care Bear with the variety of natural abominations she calls friends (elephant-frogs, tree-skeletons, troll-rabbits). It's sweet enough to invite anaphylaxis.
Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection
It then grows into its teen years: brooding and self-serious — an older Maleficent (now Ella Purnell) falls horns-over-wingtips for some dope named Stefan, who vows his true love to her but is totes just being a selfish d-bag — followed by the violent hostility of its young adulthood — Stefon (Sharlto Copley, affecting a bad guy in an Animaniacs period sketch) betrays Maleficent (finally Jolie, who cuts through the thick, musty sheaths of aimless convolution with her incredible screen charisma... or maybe just those diabolical cheekbones) by stealing her wings, earning his place as king and setting her off on a course of bitter revenge.
For a long while thereafter, Maleficent settles into adulthood: cynical, mechanical, apparently bored with its life altogether (this after Maleficent dooms King Stefon's baby daughter Aurora to the curse of eventual eternal sleep) ... that is, until a change in direction affords it a short-lived whimsy that perks up the energy just enough to keep it (and us) trucking to the end. If we can work our way past Imelda Staunton, Leslie Manville, and Juno Temple as the insufferable and incompetent fairies charged with caring over young Aurora (Elle Fanning, but without the usual moxy).
Of course, before it gets there, it endures the ever faithful mid-life crisis, ushers in a resurgence of misguided passion that never had much place in the formula to begin with and certainly doesn't seem at all at home this time around — this is an era of ghost-fish, dragon-fights, and plot contrivances out the wazoo. But finally, the film settles on the tranquility of willful disregard, knowing that there's nothing it can now do about its lifetime of shortcomings, happily committing to memories of the things it loved most: reptile-pachyderm hybrids, diabolical cheekbones, and the narration of Janet McTeer. Like any human, Maleficent leaves the world with more questions than answers, and ones we're all better off relegating to a few short words upon its passing and then forgetting altogether.
And, much like all people, it's not very good. Fine. Not altogether bad. But mostly just brazenly unimportant.
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A song penned by a teenager killed in a coach crash on his way home from a British festival last year (12) has been released by the event's organiser Rob Da Bank. The track, titled Rise And Fall, was written by Michael Molloy, from Liverpool, England and recorded in July last year (12), just weeks before his death at the age of 18 when a bus transporting more than 50 festival-goers from Bestival crashed into a tree on 10 September (12).
The song was completed by his friend and musical collaborator Alex Evans and released by Rob Da Bank, real name Robert John Gorham, through his Sunday Best label, entering the U.K. Singles Chart on Sunday (05May13) at Number 38.
Rob Da Bank said, "It's obvious to me that Michael was a young and rare talent and that music was an extremely important part of his life. I've heard he absolutely loved Bestival and had a great time at Bestival 2012, so I feel privileged to be able to help his family fulfil his and their ambition of getting Michael's music out there."
Michael's mum Frances adds, "The release of Michael's single will represent a small step in the long and hard job of rebuilding our lives. We will always be thankful for the fact that he was the happiest 18-year-old alive at the time of his death. He was fulfilled and full of hopes and dreams. One of those dreams was for his talent to be recognised."
Bestival takes place annually over three days on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England.
Drama War Witch was named Best Narrative Feature, with Rachel Mwanza taking home the Best Actress award at the prizegiving in Manhattan on Thursday night (26Apr12).
Una Noche director Lucy Molloy was honoured, as were the film's cinematographers Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder. Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nunez Florian shared the Best Actor award for their role in the Cuban drama.
The awards were presented by the festival's founders Robert De Niro and producer Jane Rosenthal, and the jury panel, which included Patricia Clarkson, Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon. Winners received a cash prize of up to $25,000 (£13,000).
Other jurors who cast their opinion on the films include Dakota Fanning, Whoopi Goldberg, Kim Cattrall and director Brett Ratner.
Audience Award winners will be announced on Saturday (28Apr12).