Maleficent

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Maleficent Movie Poster Image
Visually beautiful but dark retelling of classic fairytale.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 97 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 54 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 89 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn the value of looking at a situation from more than one perspective, as well as the important lesson that people are often more than what they seem.

Positive Messages

The movie's over-arching message is to not allow greed and hatred to blind you from love and generosity. If Maleficent had let go of her anger at being jilted, she wouldn't have cursed Aurora, and if Stefan hadn't been so greedy and hurtful, the kingdom and the moors could have lived in peace. Aurora's journey is about staying in the light, even when surrounded by darkness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aurora is a sweet, kind girl who's curious and loves the creatures of the moors, just like young Maleficent, who was brave and protective of her fellow fairies and creatures. Maleficent is both a villain and a hero, because she had reasons to be bitter and unkind and is eventually remorseful for the hateful way she cursed baby Aurora. Against all odds, Maleficent is able to love again when she sees what a smart and generous young woman Aurora has become. Diaval is a loyal and truth-telling servant/helper to Maleficent.

Violence & Scariness

The movie's tone becomes quite dark, and there are some genuinely jump-worthy/scary scenes -- like when Maleficent realizes that her wings have been cut off (a brutal scene that's reminiscent of sexual assault in some ways), as well as the various battles between the kingdom and the creatures of the moors, including the climactic fight between Maleficent, the king's guards, and the king himself. The three fairies can be physical with each other -- pulling one another's hair, hitting, and slapping -- but it's usually portrayed in a humorous manner. People die on and off camera, including one key character who plunges to his death.

Sexy Stuff

A couple of kisses, including a romantic kiss between Aurora and a prince.

Language

Rare uses of insult language like "imbecile" and "idiot."
 

Consumerism

While there are no product placements in the movie, there are promotional tie-ins to merchandise including apparel, toys, accessories, and games.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Maleficent is Disney's retelling of its iconic animated princess movie Sleeping Beauty from the villain's point of view. Audiences will learn the reasons why the "evil fairy" (played by Angelina Jolie) is so bitter and resentful at not being invited to baby Aurora's welcoming party that she curses the infant princess. Far more so than the animated original (which itself is often too scary for younger kids in the preschool age bracket), this live-action version can get quite dark and may frighten younger kids, particularly during violent action sequences between the kingdom and the magical creatures of the moors. Characters die (or look dead) or are injured, and Maleficient is an intimidating figure. It's also very upsetting when her wings are cut off. But the movie's overall message -- about redemption and love -- is positive, and giving Maleficient more depth and context will help kids sympathize with her. As long as your kids can handle the battles, they'll probably enjoy this new take on a classic Disney villain.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4 year old Written bygatorjackie May 30, 2014

Disagree with the site

Commonsense media often has very good reviews and their review of Maleficent is quite good this time around. However, they are completely wrong to characterize... Continue reading
Adult Written byaidakiwi24 May 29, 2014

Terrific, female-driven summer flick!

I absolutely love this movie, and the CommonSenseMedia review is mostly spot-on...except for one thing. Maleficent doesn't enact her revenge because she... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byaeather June 12, 2014

It's really good, but..

I love Maleficent. It was a beautifully done movie. Except there was one thing that may go over people's heads, but it's there. The scene (Spoilers?)... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 12, 2014

Best Movie EVA!

This was one of the best movies EVER! It is really cool how Disney made another movie to tell Maleficent's side of the Sleeping Beaty tale. This movie teac... Continue reading

What's the story?

MALEFICENT is a retelling of Disney's classic take on Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villain, the supposedly evil fairy who eventually curses baby Princess Aurora with eternal sleep. But Maleficent, like all villains, is a complicated character: She grew up a powerful, winged fairy who lived peacefully in the magical moors adjacent to the human kingdom. When, as a child, a young peasant boy Stefan wondered into the moors, young Maleficent grew attached to him, despite her distrust of humans. Their friendship leads to romance over the years, but after Stefan (Sharlto Copley) does something unthinkable to Maleficent (now Angelina Jolie) to gain the king's favor, she grows bitter and dark from his betrayal. Once Stefan is crowned king and his queen has a baby girl, Maleficent decides to get her revenge by cursing little Aurora. Little does Maleficent know that the girl will grow up into a sweet and curious girl (Elle Fanning) whom even a dark and angry fairy could appreciate.

Is it any good?

Plenty of Maleficent is visually spectacular, with amazing special effects and lush scenery: The moors at their brightest are sweet and enchanting, while the kingdom is a drab and imposing place. Between the art design, the costumes, and the immaculate CGI-aided make-up (has an actress ever had such razor-sharp cheekbones as Jolie in this film?), Maleficent is a true feast for the eyes, which is no surprise, given director Robert Stromberg's history as a visual effects specialist.

Plot wise, however, the movie is a bit of a letdown. Jolie is wonderful at being (justifiably) mean -- with her sharp face, scary green eyes, and clipped speaking tones -- and she's good at delivering the dry one liners. But to reduce her story to the cliche of a jilted and jealous ex-girlfriend is slightly disappointing and undercuts the movie's other message: that you should strive to stay in the light, even when surrounded by darkness. While younger kids might be alternately scared or bored, older kids and adults might wish for a little more enchantment to go along with the effects. Still, Fanning, so lovely and bright-eyed, is well cast as teen Aurora, and worth seeing opposite Jolie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why villains/antiheroes are often just as compelling as heroes. Were you surprised at Maleficent's back story? Did it make her more sympathetic?

  • How does the movie make you rethink the story of Sleeping Beauty? What is the film trying to say about villains? Are people all good or all evil?

  • How is the idea of love explored in the movie? Is love only the romantic kind, or are there are other kinds of "true love"?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love fairy tales

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