Maleficent is Magnificent! (and five other lessons the movie taught me)

Maleficent was the one fairy tale villain that I was truly terrified of. I watched Disney's Sleeping Beauty for the first time when I was about five or six, and Although I loved the movie, Maleficent gave me nightmares.  To this day, she's still one of my favorite Disney villains.

When I first heard that Disney was making a movie about the untold story of Maleficent, I was reluctant to watch it. I thought I already knew what it was going to be about. I thought it would be like Wicked: a story that showed Maleficent was no villain, just a tragically misunderstood hero. I figured her story would win me over and I'd end up rooting for her. I figured the movie would end with me feeling sad and frustrated that the fairy tale turned out so badly for her, just like Elphaba in Wicked.

Well, I watched an advanced screening of Maleficent a couple of days ago, and I could not have been more wrong! Yes, Maleficent's story did win me over. Yes, I did end up rooting for her. But Disney definitely has a thing or two to teach me about plot twists and surprise endings!  I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, but I did want to share five of the most distinct themes or lessons I felt the movie contained:

1) Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
Have you ever thought that Maleficent kind of overreacted to not being invited to Princess Aurora's christening? Well, it turns out she had another reason to be angry....

2) Men are pigs
...and now you might be able to guess the reason.  Seriously, though, why do men have to be so greedy and ambitious and war-like? 

3) Run the World (Girls)
Girls don't need a prince to save them! Given lesson #2 above, I think the world would truly be better if girls did run the world.  I might be giving away a bit of a plot spoiler here, but if this movie is any indication, I think Disney agrees with me!

4) There's a bit of the hero and the villain in all of us
The movie doesn't excuse Maleficent for the awful things she did in Sleeping Beauty. But it definitely shows a different side to her.

5) Love conquers all
Yes, it truly does. But not the kind of love you might be thinking of! Remember Frozen's "act of true love"...

Maleficent was definitely no cookie cutter fairy tale, and that's why I loved it (again, another similarity with Frozen!). The movie was a visual and emotional treat -- it was such a pleasure to see the beautiful scenery and special effects unfold in front of my eyes (not to mention all the beautiful people like little Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Elle Fanning, and Angelina Jolie!), and so nice to watch a movie that made me feel all the warm fuzzies at the end.There's a lot of dark imagery that can be intense for young kids, but if they can make it to the end, I can promise a truly happily-ever-after fairy tale ending!

PS: you can skip the added cost of seeing Maleficent in 3D. I don't think it added anything to the visual experience.

Disclaimer: I was invited to an advanced press screening of Maleficent in order to facilitate this review.

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