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Ideas & Quality - Musings of Maleficent - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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June 10th, 2014

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03:05 am - Ideas & Quality - Musings of Maleficent
So, I thought I'd try posting here again…
I've long heard people discussion how the ideas or less often the plot of a book or movie was. Oftentimes, I agree with them, but for me having fascinating ideas or a wonderful plot does not mean that the work in question can't also suck. For me perhaps the biggest difference between book movies with wonderful ideas and poor execution is that I'm vastly more likely to actually see such a movie than finish such a book, since attractive visuals can at least hold my interest, while leaden prose causes me to throw down a book in disgust no matter how awesome the ideas inside may be.

I saw Maleficent this weekend, and it was one of these sorts of movies. There was definitely some good acting (by both Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning), the visuals were supremely lovely, and the plot was exactly the sort of wonderfully transgressive retelling that I deeply love.

Unfortunately, the film was also fairly mediocre, and was made so by choices that boggle me – I thought everyone, and especially everyone in charge of making multi-hundred million dollar films was aware that voice-over narration should be used sparingly, if at all. Combine that with a film that was around half an hour too short, which ignored the truism of "show not tell" in a myriad of ways, and which prioritized catchy visuals or characterization, and the result was far, far less than awesome.

I went to see if with teaotter, who felt much the same ways, and who pointed out that a vastly better and more compelling way to start the film was with Aurora's christening scene, where the faeries arrive, and then do Maleficent's backstory in flashback, preferably framed by Maleficent telling her story to Aurora. That gives you a lovely start in the middle, catchup with flashbacks and then move forward structure that has worked exceptionally well in many books and films.

Also, I'm not certain, but it felt like the scene where teenage Aurora first sees Maleficent actually contained a bit less dialog than the version of the same scene in the trailers, even if I'm misremembering, such a pivotal scene should have contained more dialog.

On the positive side, it was the top selling film on its opening weekend, and this last weekend, it came in second, well ahead of the equally unimaginative sounding Edge of Tomorrow (although both were to me inexplicably beaten out by a film about two teens who fall in love while dying of cancer, which is the sort of story I've always found hideously & pointlessly depressing and whose popularity baffles me).

In any case, we have the first two Hunger Games films (and especially the second) to prove that well done action-adventure movies with female leads can be wildly successful, and this movie proves that action films with female leads can do well even if they are well less than perfect, which is hopefully excellent news for seeing more such films (most of which are hopefully well better than Maleficent) being made. Also, the movie has already spawned a wealth of fanfic, the best of which is considerably deeper and better than the film, which is one of the things that fandom excels at.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 10th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
Thx for posting. Methinks I shan't bother paying full price for this film. WIll also I'll skip first-run matinee pricing. May opt for $3-4 at one of PDX's many second-run theaters. Perhaps though I'll wait for freebie showing on NetFlix down the line. *SIGH*
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:June 12th, 2014 03:49 am (UTC)
I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, so I'd recommend seeing it, but definitely not at a full price theater. I think it's well worth seeing at a $3-4 second run theater.

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