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Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the lands over which she presides, the scorned fairy Maleficent places a cruel curse upon the human king's newborn daughter, Aurora. As she grows and comes of age, Aurora is caught in the center of the dangerous conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom which is to be her legacy. Maleficent realizes Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced into bold action which may change both of their worlds forever.
For more about Maleficent and the Maleficent Blu-ray release, see Maleficent Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 30, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple
Narrator: Janet McTeer
Director: Robert Stromberg
» See full cast & crew
Maleficent Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 30, 2014
In Disney's retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty story, love once again takes center stage as the key plot driver, but so too do themes of good and evil and the malleability of men and other living things in possession of a heart and soul to be swayed by the draws of power, tamed by the hands of time, but always susceptible to the unending push of light to darkness and darkness to light that, yes, frequently brightens the world in the form of love. Maleficent's story and characters bend to the ebbs and flows of light and dark, of love and loathing, of sincerity and trickery in a world in topsy-turvy upheaval under the clashing powers of good and evil, good and evil that often knows no face but rather basic emotions and developed feelings that are in a constant state of change under the greater spells of time, togetherness, understanding, anger, hatred, and indeed, love. The live-action recreation of one of Disney's most cherished tales is a rousing success, maintaining core story elements but at the same time making its own alterations to give this version its own identity. It's classic Disney even in live-action form, a film that effortlessly captures the essence of the original animated tale while bending it into a different shape, all with the accessibility and technical wizardry modern audiences demand.
Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy) is a fairy who lives a peaceful life in the Moors, a simple land filled with wonder where its inhabitants live in harmony with one another, which is in stark contrast to the more hierarchical and violence-prone human land which sits adjacent to the Moors. One day, a young thief named Stefan (Michael Higgins) is caught stealing jewels from the river but is forgiven when Maleficent grows closer to him. They develop a bond that grows more closely over the years. One day, the human king (Kenneth Cranham) lays siege to the Moors. He's mortally wounded but promises the throne to anyone who can avenge him by bringing him a prize: proof of Maleficent's (Angelina Jolie) demise. Stefan (Sharlto Copley), hungry for power, uses his friendly history with Maleficent to lure her to him. While he cannot bring himself to kill her, he does take her wings as a trophy. He ascends to the throne and gains the power he's always wanted. When Maleficent learns his queen has birthed a child, she curses the infant, foretelling of a simple prick at the tip of a spindle on her sixteenth birthday that will forever render her in a state of sleep, a spell that can only be broken by true love's kiss, a thing Maleficent believes does not, and never will, exist.
The core theme of Maleficent involves the ever-changing landscape of good and evil and the internal and external corruptions, but also the greater humanity, that can drive one towards either side, and even swing between sides, as circumstances but also one's own moral compass dictate. In the film, both Stefan and Maleficent take their turns on both sides, his defined by a lust for power and hers a craving for revenge, his heart darkened by the desires shaped by his place in life, hers the product of a body suddenly tortured and a soul pushed to the extreme. The picture does a marvelous job at finding a balance between overtly pronouncing the dichotomies between good and evil and gently weaving them into the greater character dynamics that string the movie together. On the surface, Maleficent appears, initially, as both angel and demon, adorned with wings and horns alike, symbolizing the conflict capable of building within her. When she loses her wings -- or the outward symbol of good -- her turn to evil is swift when the symbolic devil is all that's left behind. For Stefan, the transformation is something of a reversal, where his inner greed for power ultimately manifests an outer need to protect his child at all costs. For him, love is born of evil. For Maleficent, evil is born from love. The real question, then, is how, and if, the circle will complete itself, if love which has become loathing can once again become love.
Maleficent additionally satisfies beyond the well-defined and precisely executed themes. It's a digital marvel, a veritable playground of all things CGI that actually look good, like they belong, like they work in conjunction with the movie, not dominating of or distracting from it. Whether creature transformations, walking moss-covered tree warriors, buzzing fairies, or complex backgrounds, the film is only enhanced by the precise work carefully crafted by the digital artists. The movie additionally flows well and manages to tell a story that's both easily accessible and deeply seeded in a rather compact time frame, running just over ninety minutes but managing to satisfy all requirements dramatic, thematic, and technical without overextending its welcome. It's also wonderfully performed. Angelina Jolie appears in what is arguably a career-defining role, portraying a wonderfully complex character who she manages to simplify without dumbing down, to make friendly and frightening both without losing a bond with the audience. Jolie, more than any other performer in the film, seems to understand and capture that delicate essence the movie so easily captures, which is the balance between darkly frightening, thematically deep, and dramatically simple yet audience friendly and approachable. Jolie melts into the part, including both the extremes that inwardly define the character as well as the more simple costuming and stage presence that outwardly shape the character. Quickly rising star Sharlto Copley, who dazzled in both District 9 and Elysium may not play the part for which he will be remembered, but he does play it earnestly, with a passion for the part and an understanding of the role's greater requirements beyond simple dialogue and physical postures.
Maleficent Blu-ray, Video Quality
Maleficent's Blu-ray presentation sparkles. Disney's latest is a spellbinding affair, producing a clean, but not sterile, image that's bounding with vibrant brilliance and crisply defined details in every shot. General image clarity is striking across the board, and both digital and practical visuals reap the benefits. Skin textures are impeccably complex, revealing every minor pore and line and bit of makeup powder to eye-catching perfection. Leaves, wooden details at the cottage where Aurora is raised, clothing lines, and terrain are beautifully reproduced to exacting detail. Colors are bold and consistently so. The palette is a joyously vibrant place in the film's brighter scenes, with multicolored adornments, landscapes, and other small details abundant. Reproduction is exacting, and even lower-light scenes reveal a natural palette influenced only by the relative absence of light. Speaking of, black levels are deep and pure, while flesh tones never betray natural, or makeup-defined, shades. The image is stable and technically flawless, with even dense fog no match for Disney's 1080p transfer. Visually, this is about as good as it gets.
Maleficent Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Maleficent's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack won't lull listeners to sleep. While it's not a blaring earful of an experience, its elegance and balance will leave listeners satisfied. Musical clarity is a strong point, with richly defined notes flowing into the stage from throughout the range and across every one of the seven main speakers. The subwoofer chimes in to offer a deep, but not rumbly or overpowered, supportive low end. Ambient effects are effectively transparent, so well integrated that they're not so much noticed as they are subconsciously appreciated, whether during outdoor scenes or drab castle interiors. Battle sequences rise to the occasion with powerful, but not overpowered, mayhem, delivering precise and sweeping effects both, as well as a nicely defined chaotic din and a strong bass line, in perfect harmony. Dialogue reproduction is smoothly delivered and accurately focused in the center channel. Overall, this is a top-flight presentation from Disney.
Maleficent Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Maleficent contains a handful of bonus featurettes and deleted scenes. Inside the case buyers will also find a DVD copy as well as a code for a downloadable digital copy.
Maleficent Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While Maleficent retains many of the original animated movie's building blocks, it does alter the story to the point that purists may become disenchanted with the end result. Fear not, however, as the movie works, and works very well, in its present state, with its own story surprises that offer another perspective on the many themes that run through it. It's richly told but with an underlying simplicity that allows the movie to be at once both a visual wonder but also a thematically deep journey, a novel experience while playing comfortably familiar. It's beautifully photographed, very well performed, and digitally heavy but not to the point of overwhelming the experience. It's such a success that one must wonder if Disney will look to reclaim classic animated tales in live-action form again later on down the line. Could Snow White or Beauty and the Beast be next? Disney's Blu-ray release of Maleficent is magnificent. While it sadly lacks a more thorough supplemental section, video and audio presentations are pristine. Highly recommended.
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Maleficent Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: November 4-11 - November 2, 2014
For the week of November 4th, Walt Disney Home Entertainment is bringing Maleficent to Blu-ray. Other titles include Warner and New Line's extended-cut release of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, HBO's complete-series set of The Sopranos, and ...
• Maleficent Blu-ray: Exclusive Giveaway - October 29, 2014
Blu-ray.com and Walt Disney Home Entertainment are offering members the opportunity to win a Blu-ray copy of director Robert Stromberg's Maleficent (2014), starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Brenton Thwaites, Sam ...
• Maleficent Blu-ray - August 1, 2014
Walt Disney Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of Robert Stromberg's blockbuster Maleficient (2014), starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Brenton Thwaites, Sam Riley, ...
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