Sunday, July 6, 2014

Maleficent (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Special effects maestro Robert Stromberg, known as Uncle Rob, has rendered a great experience in his directorial debut, which unfolds as a classic Disney liquid sky of dreams pulsing with heart, energy and something of old Hollywood allure that has not been seen since "The Wizard of Oz".

Angelina Jolie is electric in the title role as the anti-hero dominatrix Maleficent. Here she is a dark queen par excellence, who gives Tim Curry's Darkness -- as depicted in Ridley Scott's "Legend" -- a run for his money.

Maleficent's origins are lusty, benevolent and big hearted in strength, as she starts out as queen of the moors, having dominion over the faeries and all things green and rooted.

As an ivory-blushed teen played by Ella Purnell, she is an emerald honey-drop with skin fairer than fair and eyes that speak of opiate kingdoms without words. With great arcing forest-colored, espresso-dappled wings, Maleficent towers above all as a cool fever dream painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and inked by Disney himself.

The smolderingly icy Maleficent burns unconditionally, giving and hot when smitten by the teen Stefan (Michael Higgins) and the bounds of loved are forged, although anemically, without iron.

But alas, the tensions between humans and faeries increase and the two lovers part feathers and extremities without explanation.

A grizzled argentine King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) becomes absorbed by envy and strikes a war with the faeries. Sadly, he entices Stefan to do his bidding in exchange for nobility.

While at first intending to warn his beloved, Stefan becomes possessed in selfishness and does some unthinkable clipping.

Suffice to say our young bejeweled Juliet is bereft and betrayed and she transforms into a sable seductress, grown mature in a viscous oily absence of light, only now malleable in hate.

She crashes a darling infant's christening and under the guise of a gift, utters a curse, all due to a once lovely and winged lover shorn with scorn.

The cherubic cutie in the cradle is no other than Sleeping Beauty and you will be hard pressed to find a more photogenic baby anywhere (except perhaps in the recent "Neighbors"). This cooing darling even sneezes adorably as periwinkle blue butterflies alight on her nose.

You can't beat that.

As baby Aurora grows up, she believes Maleficent to be her Faery Godmother. A push and pull develops.

Does Maleficent go all evil in overdrive to protect herself, or does she become an antihero guardian to this young princess who is the epitome of golden-eyed positivity with eyes of sky and stream?

"Malificent" the film is richly wondrous and multi-layered with echoes of  Dante, Faust and the masterful epic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In this film we have a brambling brouhaha of nature in revolt, a Disney version of Edmund Burke's Sublime as an awesome jolt---confusingly chaotic in terror, a place without a bottom or top.

This is what rejection can bring.

The repulsively sweaty and snarling adult Stefan (the villainous actor Sharlito Copley from District 9) is more horrible than Malificent can ever be. When she is under chains, Jolie takes the form of all of our most beloved and sympathetic creatures from The Wicked Witch, to Irina in 1942's "Cat People" and King Kong. In torment, weight and sadness, she covers it all.

Angelina Jolie's last crowning in "Maleficent" is that she has shown this woman-entity to be more than the purple and green shades found in her Walt Disney complexion. She reveals the spite under her hero and the sadness beneath the Grim Domme's objectivist splendor. Above all, her Maleficent is humanist and earthy. And this fetishistic Maxfield Parrish tale of faeries and All Hallows' Eve hearts, ripped and torn asunder, is all the better for her. Jolie's conjurer's art through gesture and expression almost reaches the heights of lysergic acid even without the tasteful flourish of 3D.

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