Commentary

June 20, 2014

Fly Over: ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Edge of Tomorrow’

Marcy Copeland and James Hensley

In theaters:

Maleficent_live_action

‘Maleficent’

“Maleficent” was developed by Brad Pitt and is based on Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” but with a twist. Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie, tells the story from her point of view. She does not begin as mistress of all evil but a loving fairy who cares for all the creatures in the Moors. The Moors is an enchanted land of supernatural beings which boarders the human lands. A young Stefan, (Sharlto Copley) finds his way into the Moors and befriends Maleficent. The two progress through their childhood and teenage years becoming young adults. Eventually, Stefan kisses Maleficent stating the kiss was true love’s first kiss.
Stefan disappears following his dream of one day living in the castle. After a fierce battle between the humans and the creatures of the Moors, the king is defeated and his health begins to fail. He presents a challenge to whomever kills the fairy of the Moors. This victor will receive the crown, the kingdom and the princess’s hand. Knowing Maleficent’s weakness, he betrays her with sleeping poison and uses iron to burn off her wings as evidence of her demise.
Maleficent awakens to find her wings stolen. Stefen presents the wings to the dying king and is given all that was promised. As Maleficent walks through the human world, she saves a crow and transforms it into a human name Diaval (Sam Riley) and he becomes her servant. After the betrayal of her heart, Maleficent ascends the throne and announces herself queen of the Moors and darkness covers the land.
As Diaval spies on King Stefan, he learns a daughter is born to the royal couple. Maleficent, full of hatred and betrayal, and a woman scorned, places a curse on the child that cannot be undone. The curse will occur at sunset on Aurora’s (Elle Fanning) 16th birthday. She will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. King Stefan begs her to remove the curse and as a gesture of kindness, Maleficent states that she will not die, but will remain in an eternal sleep until true love’s first kiss breaks the spell. (How’s that for a nice stab in the heart, smug revenge tactic?)
The king entrusts the infant to three fairies to care for her for 16 years and one day. The fairies are clumsy, careless and more focused on their new human lives than the care of Aurora. Maleficent watches the child from afar and inadvertently ends up caring for the child and protecting her.
After years of watching the little “Beastie” Maleficent makes herself known to Aurora. Many visits with Aurora take place and Maleficent takes her to the Moors. Then one night, Maleficent attempts to remove the curse but no power can remove the curse except true love’s first kiss. Aurora makes the decision to stay with Maleficent, but a brief encounter with Prince Phillip leaves her a bit confused. Aurora learns Maleficent is the one who cursed her and Aurora returns to King Stefan’s castle one day early.
A crazed, paranoid King Stefan locks his daughter in her room and continues his plan to defeat Maleficent. As is true with all irreversible curses, it finds you. Aurora becomes entranced and finds the room where all spinning wheels were burned 16 years ago. Aurora approaches the cursed wheel, pricks her finger and well, you know the rest of the story, except Prince Phillip does not exactly “fit the bill” with the whole true love standard.
I was very excited to see this movie when I first heard about it and became even more excited when I saw the first trailer. Yes, the mistress of all evil is going to be live action. I wasn’t too sure about Jolie but she played it beautifully. My only issue with it is I grew up with Maleficent being pure evil and in this movie, for me, she was not evil enough. Viewing it as something new, the movie was amazing but the end felt a bit rushed. I did love that the story was presented from Maleficent’s point of view and that no one is truly evil, but a woman with a broken heart can become someone’s worst enemy.
“Maleficent” is rated PG.

 

Also in theaters:

Edge-of-Tomorrow-poster-for-flyover

‘Edge of Tomorrow’

I saw the trailer for “Edge of Tomorrow” when I went to see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” From the preview I thought it was going to be a science fiction version of “Groundhog Day.” And, I was right.
At first I thought it was a sequel to “Battle Los Angeles,” but when it showed Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in some form of power suits, I knew it was something to look forward to.
In the movie, Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Cruise) is a huge supporter behind the final invasion plan to finish off the aliens that have invaded earth and captured all of Europe. The day before the invasion, Cage meets with General Brigham, (Brendan Gleeson), who tells Cage to join the troops on the front and capture the acts of heroism on film. Cage, who has never been near battle, wants to be as far from the front as possible, but the general is persistent and manages to “convince” him, via a direct order, to go. It’s not the typical role for Cruise who usually plays the über tough guy and not the cowardly, faltering type.
Cage wakes up later that day handcuffed at the military base which is the staging point for the invasion. He’s confronted by Master Sgt. Farell, (Bill Paxton), who tells Cage he’s one of the new recruits and a deserter who has been stripped of his rank. His efforts to convince those around him he’s not a warrior type is another antithesis of the types of character he typically plays. He’s now a part of the frontline fighting force for the invasion.
On the day of the invasion he’s suited up and dropped on a beach where he sees war hero Rita Vrataski get killed. Cage, who has no fighting experience, is killed within a matter of minutes of landing on the beach but not before something happens.
He jolts awake handcuffed back at the staging base he found himself the day before, and this is where it gets a little Groundhog Day-ish. He goes through the motions of a day he’s lived already. He tries to help save people and figure out how to fight the aliens. He saves Rita from being killed by a couple aliens and she tells him to come find her when he wakes up again. Not to spoil everything but when he finds her she tells him what is happening to him and tells him to return every day to train in order to defeat the aliens.
The way Tom Cruise plays the character is really believable. He’s got great acting chops as he demonstrates with total authenticity a wide range of emotions – fear, absolute fear and total terror. You know how his character feels. Despite the wide range of feelings and desperation caused by the new world he exists in, the movie does have its comical, yet tense, moments as he learns from day-to-day how to change the failures of the previous day.
For those who would love to have a “do-over” in life, this is a must-see. And speaking of do-overs, you might want to see it again and again …
This film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.




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