How Long Does Sleeping Beauty Actually Sleep in ‘Maleficent’? (And 24 Other Urgent Questions)
‘Maleficent,’ starring Angelina Jolie (‘The Bone Collector’), brings us the story of Sleeping Beauty, only from the villain’s point of view. At it turns out, maybe she’s just misunderstood? Have we misjudged Maleficent for putting that curse on poor Sleeping Beauty? Will it feel like there’s been a curse put on us after watching ‘Maleficent’? As a service to you, we answer every question that you could possibly have about ‘Maleficent.’
Q: Who is Maleficent?
A: Maleficent is the woman with interesting horns on her head that we meet in ‘Sleeping Beauty.’
Q: But isn’t she the villain?
A: In the story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ that we all know, yes, she’s the villain. But, here, this movie tries to explain her actions.
Q: And what is her explanation for putting an evil spell on a baby?
A: According to the events depicted in ‘Maleficent,’ she basically just overreacted on that one day and now she feels bad.
Q: What caused Maleficent to overreact?
A: Well, it has a lot to do with a boy named Stefan.
Q: What did Stefan do to Maleficent?
A: When they were both younger, Stefan was nice and he and Maleficent were friends. Later, Stefan grows up to become yet another really weird Sharlto Copley character who betrays Maleficent by poisoning her and cutting off her wings -- in what turns out to be a very creepy scene.
Q: Does Sharlto Copley think he’s in a different movie?
A: At this point, I’m fairly certain Sharlto Copely thinks he’s on a different planet. Or maybe even a quasar. It’s hard to tell.
Q: How does Maleficent seek revenge upon Stefan?
A: By crashing a celebration in honor of his new baby, Aurora, and placing a spell on her.
Q: Is this the best scene of the movie?
A: By far. Angelina Jolie is in total control during this scene and it’s staged very well. Sadly, the rest of the film comes nowhere near the quality of this scene.
Q: What exactly is the spell?
A: Okay, it’s actually a fairly complicated a very specific spell. So, if at any point Aurora pricks her finger on a spinning wheel before the day after her 16th birthday, she will fall asleep forever.
Q: Isn’t that a little different than what we saw in the 1959 ‘Sleeping Beauty’?
Q: Who puts in the escape clause about a kiss from the one true love?
A: After Weird King Sharlto Copley asks for mercy, Maleficent herself adds that clause.
Q: How does Weird King Sharlto Copley react to this spell?
A: He has all the spinning wheels in his kingdom destroyed -- which is strangely smart for such a weird king – and sends Aurora off to live with three pixies in the countryside until one day after her sixteenth birthday.
Q: Are we at a point where it’s impossible for Sharlto Copley to play a normal human being?
A: Yes. We have lost him forever.
Q: Do the pixies wind up being good parents?
A: I think the movie wants us to think they are good, loving pixie parents, but they are really awful. Aurora almost gets herself killed a few times and it’s always Maleficent who winds up having to save her.
Q: What kind of trouble does Aurora get herself into?
A: Well, there’s that time she literally runs off of a cliff to her certain death until Maleficent saves her with a tree branch. Eventually, Maleficent regrets that whole spell situation and grows to like the older Aurora (Elle Fanning).
Q: Do Maleficent and Aurora meet?
A: Yes, and they wind up spending a lot of time together in Maleficent’s lair.
Q: While Aurora is visiting Maleficent, what do the two of them do?
A: A large portion of this movie is spent on Maleficent just watching a smiling Elle Fanning pet mystical creatures.
Q: Does Maleficent have any other friends?
A: Yes. At one point she changes a crow into a human (Sam Riley) and they then proceed to have a lot of conversations.
Q: Should I see ‘Maleficent’?
A: There could have been some fun had here by actually sticking to the events of the prior ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story, then showing us what’s happening from Maleficent’s point of view, but so much is changed, it’s just kind of a new story -- and not a very good new story. The title of this movie could have really been, ‘Whoops, I Totally Overreacted On That One Day and I Took My Frustration Out On The Wrong Person And I Really Regret That Now.’
Q: Would you like ‘Maleficent’ better if the name of the movie were ‘Whoops, I Totally Overreacted On That One Day and I Took My Frustration Out On The Wrong Person And I Really Regret That Now’?
A: Maybe a little. But, the biggest problem with ‘Maleficent’ is that it’s just so darn dull. And that’s really disappointing, because we do get a small glimpse into what Jolie can do with this role when she’s hamming it up in the aforementioned throne room scene.
Q: What would the title ‘Whoops, I Totally Overreacted On That One Day and I Took My Frustration Out On The Wrong Person And I Really Regret That Now’ look like on a movie poster?
A: A lot like this:
Q: How long is Sleeping Beauty actually asleep?
A: In the original fairy tale, it was 100 years. In the Disney movie, it was probably only a few hours. Here, it’s maybe 45 minutes. Like, not our, as a viewer’s version, of 45 minutes, but 45 minutes of her actual time.
Q: How does Aurora get the name Sleeping Beauty when she didn’t even get a full eight hours sleep?
A: There are obviously some exaggerating residents of this particular kingdom.
Q: But I bet that scene is cool when Maleficent turns herself into a dragon?
A: If you’re looking forward to that particular scene, you are going to be disappointed.
Q: If I’m going to see one of the two new releases, ‘Maleficent’ or ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ this weekend, what should I see?
A: Honestly, that's like the Bizarro-Sophie’s Choice. If Sophie actively disliked both of her children and were forced to keep one, that’s kind of what you’re dealing with this weekend if these are your only two choices. But, at least there was some honest effort involved in ‘Maleficent’ as opposed to the ego trip that is ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West.’
Mike Ryan is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.