I May Have Been Wrong About Maleficent

MovieBob

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I May Have Been Wrong About Maleficent

I took another look at Disney's revisionist take on Maleficent.

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Burnouts3s3

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I don't think we 'can' accurately predict how audiences will/should react to certain scenes. At best, we can do a lot of test screenings but there's always going to be the outliers.

I think there's enough there to show evidence of mutilation and the taking of something that should not be taken, but it's going to be subject to interpretation. Even Inkoo Kang, on the podcast, thought it wasn't rape.
 

youji itami

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"So. MALEFICENT. is a pretty big hit. Huge, in fact,"

?, it hasn't even broken even yet which after 2 weeks is closer to bomb than hit.
 

hawk533

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youji itami said:
"So. MALEFICENT. is a pretty big hit. Huge, in fact,"

?, it hasn't even broken even yet which after 2 weeks is closer to bomb than hit.
Don't forget the foreign box office. It's made $350M worldwide after 2 weeks, so I think they at least broke even.

OT: Thanks Bob. I wasn't that interested in seeing this movie before, but now I think my wife might at least find it meaningful and may give it a shot.
 

youji itami

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hawk533 said:
youji itami said:
"So. MALEFICENT. is a pretty big hit. Huge, in fact,"

?, it hasn't even broken even yet which after 2 weeks is closer to bomb than hit.
Don't forget the foreign box office. It's made $350M worldwide after 2 weeks, so I think they at least broke even.

OT: Thanks Bob. I wasn't that interested in seeing this movie before, but now I think my wife might at least find it meaningful and may give it a shot.
It cost $180 million plus whatever the advertising budget was which is usually equal or more than the production budget and this film has seen more advertising than ASM2. This film needs to make a lot more before it's profitable.


(capcha - dollar signs) yeah it's psychic.
 

Darth_Payn

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I get adding to Maleficent's backstory (like GIVING her a past), but not rewriting every character who isn't her into either a moron (Charming, the 3 fairies) or a total bastard (the King). Maybe, as a dude, I'm not the target audience for this movie. Bob admitting the same also explains why he didn't like the Hunger Games either, despite his reviews for those always being a hoot to watch).
 

Gorrath

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It is hard to digest and review a piece of media that isn't targeted at you. It's also quite easy to overlook what might be problematic in a film because you don't know enough to be critical of it. This is why I think critics should strive to do exactly what you've done here.

I am one of those people who love Friday. I love it despite its obvious flaws because it resonates with me (spent part of my youth in the actual projects/poor neighborhoods.) Meanwhile, I also take a crap all over movies that portray militaries because they so very often get so much of it wrong. I have to remind myself that its just for fun and I shouldn't take it too seriously.

On the flip side, otherwise "okay" movies hit a soft spot in me because they play something just right. The remake of War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise was hardly a breakthrough film, but I was actually trembling and wiping tears from my eyes when the Army launched its attack on alien forces they knew they couldn't possibly beat, in order to distract the invaders long enough for civilians to get away. Just hearing the words "Attack, attack, attack!" come over the SINCGARS had a powerful visceral effect on me; an effect practically no one else outside of my experience could have understood.

In short, kudos for giving the film another look and trying to fit yourself into the mold of someone else to see their perspective. It demonstrates a high level of professionalism and is worthy of tremendous praise, whatever that's worth coming from someone who will never be a film critic himself.
 

teamcharlie

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I'm not in the movie business (either making or reviewing). I'm not really interested in seeing this or that demographic gasp or cheer or relive traumatic memories or whatever. I like movies that are entertaining pretty much no matter who you are, because I don't strictly identify with one demographic's taste or another.

Is Maleficent an entertaining enough movie on its own for somebody who may have no reaction whatsoever to the 'OMG they're metaphorically discussing rape' elements in the movie to bother watching?
 

2xDouble

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Thank you, Bob. It feels a little weird not to be (at least part of) the target audience for a Disney movie, doesn't it?

I have one more nagging qualm. If she's supposed to be the hero in this film, why is she still called "Maleficent", which literally means "evil" or "evil one"? Surely that would be a name given to her by the "mean old man-folk" who tormented her, not her actual name? or perhaps it means something else in faerie language? Is this addressed in the movie, or do they just glaze over it?

I could see her taking that name after the whole revenge binge starts, like taking up the mantle of Batman, but before? it doesn't make sense to me.

Oh yeah... and that subtle abortion metaphor I can't help but notice... "remember ladies, if you keep the baby, she'll give you not only superpowers, but revenge against the man who raped you... but only if it's a girl."
 

croc3629

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My problem with it is it feels like instead of just deepening Maleficient's character, they just tore down the other characters to make it easier to build Maleficient up as the real hero of the story, and taking the easy way out with her regretting the curse outright. By minimizing her own on screen villainy as well, it also made her much less interesting to watch.

I think that would have worked better for me if Sleeping Beauty didn't already exist, because now this just feels like reversing conventions for the sake of it rather than a real subversion. Flipping the good/evil + smart/dumb switch on the traditional heroes and villains without trying to spread enough depth to protagonist and antagonist alike just comes off as wasted potential for a true, deep re-imagining of the tale, with some actual conflict to mull over on all sides.
 

AntiChrist

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MovieBob said:
My criticisms remain, but my opinion as to whether it's an "important" or likely to be "enduring" film have substantially changed. It's healthy, in my opinion, to make considerations like this more often.

I'm not re-watching that new Spider-Man again anytime soon, though.

I don't think it's really possible to review a film from anybody's perspective but your own. The movie is quite literally experienced through your own eyes - whatever experiences somebody else might have had with the film you'll never now first hand. It is however, under such circumstances, easy to fall prey to the myopia where you forget that things can be perceived differently from your own perception, and I think it says a lot about you, Bob, that you took a step back and tried to reexamine things.

At any rate, thanks for sharing your musings with us. For what it's worth, I think these written columns - High Definition, Intermission - hold some of your better stuff published on the Escapist. Is it due to the format, I wonder?
 

AnnaIME

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Dec 15, 2009
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"Yup, that's what that's like."

Maybe I'm giving Disney too much credit, but fairytales are supposed to help children process the challenges of adult life. Far too many of the children in the audience are going to experience sexual assault at some point in their lives, so we need modernized fairytales that adress this in a somewhat kid friendly way.

There will also be too many parents in the audience who are survivors of rape and/or assault. How do you talk to your children about these things? Stories are a good starting point.
 

Conner42

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I kind of wonder if this has a lot to do with just seeing through the seams of a lot of movies up to a point where it's hard to get emotionally engaged to anything in movies. I'd take a guess that a lot of families going to see Maleficent haven't seen as many movies and sort of watch them with this sort of innocent, child-like experience where everything just feels so real up there.

It's usually a good thing when this happens, showing that the movie does what it needs to do in order to be engaging. I liked this movie, even if I wasn't as engaged as I might have been if I were younger. But, that happens as it just seems like something really, really special or out there needs to be done in order to really get me on board on any sort of emotionally engaging level.

I don't think I've gotten to a point where most critics have gotten to, but this detachment has been getting stronger by every year. I don't think about movies the same way as I did as close as last year.

So, I think that might have a lot to do with it as well. Not really a bad thing, it's just something that eventually happens whenever you spend a lot of time on anything.
 

Dimitriov

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2xDouble said:
Thank you, Bob. It feels a little weird not to be (at least part of) the target audience for a Disney movie, doesn't it?

I have one more nagging qualm. If she's supposed to be the hero in this film, why is she still called "Maleficent", which literally means "evil" or "evil one"? Surely that would be a name given to her by the "mean old man-folk" who tormented her, not her actual name? or perhaps it means something else in faerie language? Is this addressed in the movie, or do they just glaze over it?
Yup, Maleficent is in fact literally "evil-doer" in Latin.
 

Khymerion

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teamcharlie said:
I'm not in the movie business (either making or reviewing). I'm not really interested in seeing this or that demographic gasp or cheer or relive traumatic memories or whatever. I like movies that are entertaining pretty much no matter who you are, because I don't strictly identify with one demographic's taste or another.

Is Maleficent an entertaining enough movie on its own for somebody who may have no reaction whatsoever to the 'OMG they're metaphorically discussing rape' elements in the movie to bother watching?

Yeah actually. I was not part of the 'target demographic' and if you can sit back and enjoy the movie without being hung up on the original, to enjoy it for the concept, it is actually a very good movie. You don't have to be a child or female to walk out of the movie happy. And yes, there is a good chance if you can look past the weak second act that you will find yourself doing what the audience in Bob's article was doing, rooting for the bastard to get his tail kicked.

Is it perfect? Nope... then again, it's glaring errors and mistakes are not as terrible as certain other movies in the past couple of years and if you like fairy tales or fantasy, it is not that bad a ride.
 

Arcane Azmadi

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And to think that Bob's critics call him an amateurish fanboy who can't see past his own biases. How many OTHER critics do you know that can actually go back and reexamine their own opinions? This is a big part of why I love Bob's reviews so much that he's always my first port of call for an opinion on a movie.
 

WhiteTigerShiro

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2xDouble said:
I have one more nagging qualm. If she's supposed to be the hero in this film, why is she still called "Maleficent", which literally means "evil" or "evil one"? Surely that would be a name given to her by the "mean old man-folk" who tormented her, not her actual name? or perhaps it means something else in faerie language? Is this addressed in the movie, or do they just glaze over it?

I could see her taking that name after the whole revenge binge starts, like taking up the mantle of Batman, but before? it doesn't make sense to me.
It's just her name, no real glossing or even acknowledgement of the fact that the name means "Evil". The narration simply introduces her as "Maleficent" and that's that. I think it would have been rather a nice touch if, during the section where the narrator talks about how she defended the fairy land from humans, it took maybe 5 seconds to say that the humans were the ones who gave her the name "Maleficent". That way she could have a not-evil-sounding "real" name, and then her villain name would be one given to her by humans who tried to invade her land. It is what it is, though.
 

StriderShinryu

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This is the tough thing about criticism, especially when it's criticism of an artistic medium. Critiquing the obvious technical aspects is well and good but often doesn't get into the meat of the experience. Critiquing more than the technical aspects, however, means you end up necessarily treading into personal waters where your own interpretation, tastes and experiences colour your response. At the end of the day, as a critic, you just have to own up to that. Own up to the fact that no matter how good or bad you perceive something to be, the perspectives of a different audience may differ from your own and may even render your opinion entirely obsolete. Critics have to be honest about what they critique and can't let the potential opinion of others get in the way.

The flip side to this is, of course, how those reading or watching the review have to react. If it's the job of the critic to present their opinion but acknowledge that those other than themselves may see things differently, it's just as much the job of the critique consumer to acknowledge that the critic's opinion may not match their own. In other words, it's perfectly fine if the critic's opinion doesn't match your own. They aren't wrong. They weren't paid off. They aren't lying. They just didn't see the media in the same way you did. All they are doing is stating an opinion based in many cases off extensive experience and maybe even study, as is their job.