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Family Movie Review: Maleficent (PG)

Maleficent ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalhalf-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 97 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. The film focuses on the backstory of the “Sleeping Beauty” villain Maleficent, and gives her character development in the form of manipulation and deception by a man; the argument could be made that it’s an allegory for sexual assault. That possibility won’t be clear for young children, but how the film focuses on her romantic rejection, her negativity after that, and her eventual acceptance of a maternal role might not make it totally suitable for the youngest kids. Also some violence, including fantasy battle sequences, a few character deaths, and some kissing.

‘Maleficent’ gives us another side of the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ villain, with a starring turn from Angelina Jolie. Although her performance is excellent, the film doesn’t seem that groundbreaking—it falls again into the too-common trap of defining female characters by romantic disappointment instead of any other quality.   

By Roxana Hadadi

Disney has been making a concerted effort toward more layered villains lately, and it shows. Do you even remember the bad guys in “Frozen”? The story was so much more defined by the relationship between sisters Anna and Elsa than the opportunistic suitor or duke. In “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the bad guy was basically Oz, but he was the film’s protagonist, so he wasn’t that negatively sketched. All signs point to an era where Disney films aren’t really focused on the bad guys—resulting in a movie like “Maleficent,” where the villain is given a sympathetic backstory and a vaguely feminist bent to distance us from the original “Sleeping Beauty” story. If the film starred anyone but Angelina Jolie, it would be a joyless slog. And even with her, it’s not particularly captivating stuff.

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