Summer of 2014 is still quite far off, but the roster of movies set to release then is already beginning to create a stir. To add to the excitement, the trailers are starting to take shape, giving the first look and feel of things to follow. One of the early trailers launched today is that of another fairy tale from Disney, but with a twist. The world has changed much, hasn’t it, and so now the story on Sleeping Beauty is pushed to the backburner as another creature’s story takes precedence. A dark one too; the story of Maleficent, the villainous evil wicked witch created in Disney’s 1959 film Sleeping Beauty who curses a young princess and puts her to sleep. The film Maleficent is set to be told from the perspective of Maleficent and bring out the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse the young Princess Aurora.
Is that Angelina Jolie in the poster: Oh yeah, very much so! And that is why the excitement around the movie goes up a notch or two (or three or four?). Angelina Jolie is one of the most bankable stars around, and one would really have to rack their brains to think of any other female actress who could carry a movie solely on her shoulders to such great effect, right from the days of the Lara Croft films to the more recent Changeling and Salt. But even these films are not that recent, as Jolie has taken a back seat from acting and has been focusing on her growing repute as a director (add to that being the mother to six kids, duties being an Ambassador for United Nations, spreading awareness about mastectomy etc etc). So the last live-action film she starred in dates back to 2010 to The Tourist. Three years with no Angelina Jolie on the big screen, that’s a lot of time lost! A good enough reason to await the release of Maleficent where she will be playing the titular character. A character whose pure heart is turned to stone by betrayal, a character whose journey is to be filled with a whole range of emotions, a character who despite her eventual wickedness would have to engage the audience and be a star of the film. A role Angelina Jolie should play to perfection.
Isn’t there a big director attached to the movie: Interestingly the director is a newcomer, and he is not. Robert Stromberg is embarking on his directing debut with Maleficent and yet there is a lot to be excited about. Stromberg is a renowned visual effects guy with a lengthy relationship with Hollywood. He has been the production designer for the spectacular beauties Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and this year’s Oz the Great and Powerful. He has two Oscars (for Art Direction work on Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) and five Emmys against his name. Now we know that being great in the art department side is hardly a pre-requisite for being a great director. But if there was any newcomer we could pin our hopes to, especially for a movie of the grandeur of Maleficent where art design would play a big role, it has to be Stromberg.
Who else is part of the cast apart from Jolie: Well, since you ask, we will try our best to look beyond Angelina Jolie. There aren’t any other big stars attached with the film, but there are still a good bunch of actors involved. Elle Fanning is set to play probably the second most important role of the movie, that of Princess Auro aka Sleeping Beauty. You may remember Elle Fanning as part of the troupe of young ones in Super 8 (she was the only girl in that gang, so you can’t be confused). The young Juno Temple and the not so young Sharlto Copley are part of the movie as well.
Haven’t there been enough fairy tale based movies already: So you would believe. But the studios still see a great market here. And frankly, that is understandable, as long as you can build a movie that keeps the charm of the fairy tale but is gritty to fit the real world. So there have been successful ones like Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and the Huntsman and the duds like Jack the Giant Slayer and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Hopefully, Maleficent will wind up in the former category.
So where do we see the trailer: Right here! It’s more of a teaser of sorts with slightly less than 90 second run time, but it does captivate, keeping the secret past of Maleficent still a secret. The ensuing trailers should reveal more, but this is as good a start as one could get. Enjoy!
Maleficent releases in the USA on May 30, 2014.