June 29, 2014


I saw Maleficent, the 180 million dollar fan-fiction some time ago. I have no idea what movies are playing but I enjoy a cinema visit now and then if someone else I know is also going. “Now and then” means long enough that I forget how much I disliked my last visit.

This cinema sold meals instead of just snacks. Not a bad idea! I would much rather pay twice as much as I should for tacos than six times as much as I should for popcorn.


I was planning to bring a pizza and full serving apparatus like I usually do but the sign said no.

I need to do what I can to keep this place in business so they can keep their terrible posters illuminated and homeless vagrants informed about classics like Blended and

other movies from the guys all night every night.

As to the motion picture the group viewed, Maleficent attempts to humanize and validate an underdeveloped villain by putting her against a different underdeveloped villain, making sure to write him to be totally unsympathetic, so to save us another retcon 50 years from now that shows how perfect and slighted he is. In fact nobody else is sympathetic either. Everybody is stupid, weak and ugly. Except Maleficent!

I almost feel like Maleficent’s movie was made because business sense says she is too pretty to be evil. What that’s not right. Can’t we do something where all the mean stuff is actually done by somebody else? And look at how pudgy and elderly those colored fairies are! We NEED to make a movie where they are stupid and useless. And we’ll change their names to be dumber, too, so everybody gets it. Get me Alfred E. Neuman on the phone.
The only humanoid who understands the greatness of Maleficent is Aurora, because she is pretty, too! You ugly people just can’t relate.

I say, if you want to have a “bad ass” hero, you need to allow the hero to have some psychological or physical shortcoming. Maleficent is like if Bugs Bunny had wings and shot Elmer Fudd and killed him and then was congratulated by Elmer’s family. And instead of giggling goofily Elmer just sulked and acted like he wanted to die anyway. I cannot even think of a metaphor where Maleficent occupies a villain role because nothing about the tone of this film suggests I should ever disapprove of anything she does, except about ten minutes midway through, that seem there only to make content for the trailer. It’s like the ten minutes at the end of a superhero movie where the main characters actually wear their costumes and solve a problem, except in the middle and causing a problem that goes largely unsolved.
Do we put this classic villain in a better light by giving context to her seemingly negative actions? No, we just change the story so she didn’t really do that stuff! So why should anyone care? It is a different character with the same costume and name.

Angelina Jolie executive produced the film and also portrayed the title character. If you executive produce and star in a movie where every other character is uglier and dumber than you, you can fly, curse and kill whoever you feel like, and survive to the end without any valid opposition, the viewing of that movie is likely to be a frustrating experience, and people will assume you set it up that way.
The premise of this film no doubt started with somebody asking “why wasn’t Maleficent invited to the party at the beginning of Sleeping Beauty?” The answer the writers came up with was “because they’re haters. U mad?”
That should be enough but I wrote about six pages of junk about this.

Maleficent is not a bad film but it put swerving people familiar with the previous Disney story ahead of entertaining them. There were plenty of points at which it could have done something that would have made sense and been satisfying, but since the original Sleeping Beauty film had already done it, the script has the OPPOSITE occur just to mess with the audience, and it got really annoying.
Why did you set that up, then? Why did you introduce that character? That is how you write a parody; you use familiar source material and show how ridiculous it is. And then Maleficent not only survives, she gets back the magic power beyond her already unmeasured magic power whose removal was symbolic of her pain, the primary slight she was angry over. She had no consequences or regret about anything in the end. Yes, I hate when a heroic, redeemed or generally likable character in a film dies in a lazy attempt to make the story seem “deep,” but some poetic balance is in order here. In this situation the protagonist has cursed a family, which being a royal family thus cursed the kingdom that served the family’s whims, out of simple revenge that she changes her mind about, but then doesn’t care enough to notify the secondary victims of.


No doubt it caused great anguish for the kingdom to have what appears to be a significant part of its economy destroyed, judging by the number of thread spinning wheels smashed, heaped and burned by man-folk trying to beat Maleficent’s silly, arbitrary curse. It’s no wonder the Luddites got violent when automated textile mills showed up. She might have saved the kingdom from Rumpelstiltskin, but only inadvertently, and since Rumpelstiltskin isn’t pretty he would have joined the other side anyway, scoring another point for contrarian plot twists.

I have my own problem with doing something primarily because it seems like too many people do the opposite. That is why my stories all have terrible endings or are impossible to conclude. Don’t tease me by making 1/3 billion dollars in profits!

Perhaps to make up for the spinning deficit, Maleficent’s noted, unexplored, unquestioned tendency to be scalded by iron inspires a boost in the kingdom’s production of it. However, that causes a massive plothole beyond the illogic of sending your newborn child to live with a trio of idiots you never met before out of fear of something that is not going to happen for more than a decade and a half (the spinning wheel curse-sleep). I am to believe that men producing and operating means of war full time, overtime, for 16 years cannot make any progress against their enemy. Meanwhile this enemy is lounging about in plain view watching a child and some bumbling, sniveling old ladies (written without any redeeming characteristics, naturally) the whole time, never in fear or anxiety for a moment. Is Maleficent a fairy or a god? Intermittently she wanders over near some soldiers –soldiers that are only attacking her because she cursed their king’s family, because the king cut off her wings instead of killing her, which reduced her destructive power by approximately 0% and prevented other hunters from coming after her because they assumed she was dead until she showed herself to deliver the curse– and effortlessly beats them up, smiling and elegant the whole time. She does not pause and consider “these men are out to KILL me using the only substance that can harm me. It is a sad state of affairs. Maybe I should tell them I changed my mind about the curse that caused this so we can both have some peace.” Even the vampires in Twilight were more morally-conflicted super beings. Maybe I am over-analyzing it, but when the goal of your movie is to look clever by showing up some other movie, then you invite examination of your cleverness.

If she could have gotten out of this without killing anyone, or if she helped more than Aurora (the princess), one victim of hers out of thousands, I would say let her live, but that was not the case. Aurora’s mother had to die, though, for no reason, and offscreen, too!

Sleeping Beauty is kind of a stupid story, but since that (the 1959 cartoon version) is also a Disney property, that viewers of this are expected to be familiar with and like, this film is not really in a position to take that apart like it needs to be taken apart for the self-aware, swervy approach to work.

Not only did Maleficent kill the king, she killed the previous king as well. Not directly, but she did use magic power to toss an old man off his horse and he never walked again. And worse, he probably coughed. If you cough in a movie then you have to die.

The king-strike was in defense, of course. But a hero is defined by more than self-defense and revenge. Maleficent does not prove herself more heroic than the men who persecuted her and cut her largely superfluous wings off. If she does, that occurs between the climax and the epilogue and is not shown. She does prove herself better than a single act of malicious intent, but since it was her own act, undoing it only makes things even.

Instead of bringing depth to an old, simple story, it removes what depth there was to ensure that the studio’s desired interpretation is the only one possible, and to make the non-sense fantasy more “realistic.” This is usually how you turn a video game into a movie, not another movie. This film has little value on its own, and it degrades its source to obtain its value. This is also what I hear “Saving Mr. Banks” was about. Not to tell an untold story, just to redefine and emphasize Disney’s preferred image of something, in that case Disney himself.

As if we do not have enough movies where the BAD people are really the GOOD people! Monsters are GOOD! Dragons are GOOD! Despicable Me is not actually me! (I am despicable) Make a film with a “message” if you want, but do not pretend this approach is novel or inspired, or that declaring opposite day on a few elements results in a story that makes sense. Maleficent is one fourth of Rashomon stretched to be four times as long.

I wrote all that two weeks ago but did not post it right away since I was too busy to format it, which was bad because I kept thinking about it and it kept getting longer. Then I read a positive review that claimed the film was “feminist.” Do I look anti-feminist to complain about it? So I had to dwell on that awhile. Between now and then, an openly male individual I talked at on another topic frustratedly suggested I was talking like a feminist, so I may need to consider that “feminist” is often used to dismiss or exalt something without giving an explanation, and may have no real meaning when examined. I do not claim to be any sort of -ist. I am what I am and I ist what I ist.

I will say no (for example), it is not reasonable to expect or demand that women will play professional America foot’s ball on the same green rectangle with men (in fact I question whether men should play football with men). “Equality” is not possible, or necessarily ideal for all things, and the topic requires that we be reasonable. However, it is indeed feasible to make a better film about a flying woman with magical powers than this one. If this film has some feminist concepts, they are independent of how foolish the plot is. Idiocy is not tied to eex or gender. Women and men have the same right to make a stupid movie. A movie where a mother dies for no other reason than to show that her husband is bad for not caring, while nobody else cares either, is consistent with the non-feminist scripts this is supposed to be an improvement on.


Conan the Barbarian is a man who wins many fights and gets revenge, but there is no subtext that he is a decent person, or misunderstood. Conan is entertaining because of how awful he is. His oafiness is comical, whether that is the intended interpretation or is not. He wins fights but there is always a chance that he might not. His movies are incredibly stupid and barely plausible, but they are honest about what they are. And like before, I do not demand a female Conan equivalent. “Female version of” a male something is derivative and secondary, and like M’s movie will have a lot of changes done just to be contrary and not necessarily because they are functional. It should have a bigger goal than that. Also, this almost invariably incorporates sex-appeal toward demographically-charged males, rather than intimidation appeal toward foes, as a core element. If that is a factor for Conan it is not deliberate. I think we can have female adventure heroes without needing them to be glamorous and perfect, and without their lack of “perfection” being used as a comedic element. Or if we make them perfect we should give them more interesting or capable adversaries. Maleficent might be a good foe for Conan. He is enjoyable to see get beaten up.


Next week: If I see a movie I don’t like then I tell somebody right away before I have a chance to figure out why.



4 Responses
  1. 1
    9:37 am, June 30, 2014

    PurpleSpace sez:

    I have noticed a trend of remaking fairy tales in movie form and making them “darker and grittier”, but I don’t see anyone making me grits for breakfast. This one seems to have an easier time as it focuses on a fairy tale already made into a movie previously and apparently tries to pretend the previous movie didn’t exist. I would remake the movie by assuming everyone fully intended to invite the evil fairy to the “see the newborn princess?” party, but the postman lost the invitation and assumed no one would care because she is known as being not very nice. I thought that movie Red Sonja was already supposed to be female Conan? They probably complained about that movie as being unfair to women because it was supposedly far less good than the Conan movies.

  2. 2
    11:21 am, June 30, 2014

    Heapinfrimp sez:

    It does not pretend the other movie does not exist; its character designs and “surprise” developments bank on my familiarity with the other one. That is what confuses me. It is saying “this over movie exists but didn’t actually happen but is still a movie that you should make sure you pay the Disney corporation for and buy merchandise related to.” It even has a raspy-voiced, miserable cover of a song from that movie in it. Over the end credits, of course; REAL people do not abruptly break into song!

    I am sure there have been “female Conan” attempts but they usually/always have a side goal of making the woman be sexually attractive to the target male audience, which was never a goal with Conan (though I am certain it happened inadvertently).

  3. 3
    2:03 pm, May 8, 2016

    Prescription Pudding Pinged With:

    […] for me. I can’t really hope for more than that, knowing me. Maleficent, which I found totally loathsome, and had just as much paid promotion and dumb fan hype as Zuzutopia, possibly slightly less porn […]

  4. 4
    2:04 pm, May 8, 2016

    Frimpinheap sez:

    You are late! Yes you are.

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