Disney’s Maleficent – Mostly Spoiler-free Review

Maleficent Movie PosterIt’s a fairytale, people!  Please keep that in mind when/if you see this movie.  I avoided reviews and comments about Maleficent prior to seeing it (promptly upon my return from Walt Disney World).  Then, afterwards, I let myself check out the widely varying opinions of others – and there are gobs of them that range from “loved it” to “it was complete trash” (or worse).

I’m not hard to please.  I like my fairytale movies to have plausible (yet completely impossible) elements – based on whichever reality in which the story takes place, characters with lots of flaws, valuable life lessons, good versus evil (and the blurry spaces in between) – all tied up with a nice neat happy ending.  If you fall in a similar entertainment-viewing category, you will like Maleficent just fine.  Oddly enough, the entire story reminded me of a gigantic episode of ABC’s Once Upon a Time – which was a plus since I’m just wild about that show!

I saw it in 3D and contrary to some other viewers’ opinions (really raging, angry opinions, to boot), I was not at all bothered by any of the CGI effects.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I didn’t scrutinize them at all, but rather accepted the CGI characters and scenery in the spirit in which Maleficent Theater Posterthey were generated – to create a wonderful fantasy land in which our characters could carry on their story.

The casting was just fine overall.  Angelina Jolie was stunningly beautiful as Maleficent – breathtaking!  She owned that role completely from her gorgeous red lips to her perfect tone of voice – delivering each line precisely with the perfect amount of emotion – I could have closed my eyes and imagined exactly how she was feeling at any given time, but to look away from that face during the movie would have been impossible.  Maleficent-the-being grabs you from the first and pulls you in completely – to understand her, to know her, to love her.  Elle Fanning as Aurora was well done and I completely disagree with ridiculous reviewers who didn’t think her beautiful enough – she was.  Inside and out…the character was supposed to be a beautiful soul as opposed to simply a visual stunner.  Elle Fanning captured that perfectly.Maleficent Ticket

There were a bunch of reviews that groused about the plot – perhaps they searched too hard for pro-feminist politics or a deeper meaning for “true love’s kiss”.  I liked the story – I “got” the plot and felt it was neither too deep nor too shallow.  I found (this is me and my opinion) the movie to be visually stunning and thought provoking to just the right extent.

If you are looking for a deeply moving social commentary on women’s roles or unresolved childhood issues – please pass on Maleficent.  If you’re looking for a stunningly presented fairytale with all the right elements, interesting characters, and the perfect ending – dish out the $$ and see Maleficent on the big screen – in 3D if you can.

Have you seen Maleficent?  What’s your impression of the movie?


Voices of Disney – Remembering Eleanor Audley (1905-1991)

IMG_2518Two of the most wicked, scariest Disney villains of all time have got to be Lady Tremaine and Maleficent.  These two were just perfectly evil!  Devious?  Check.  Arrogant?  Check.  Self-serving, power-hungry schemers?  Double-check!  Long before it was fashionable to be a snarky baddie with comedic one-liners (Scar, Ursula and Hades, for example) – the classic Disney villains were just plain rotten.

How wonderfully perfect that both Lady Tremaine and Maleficent were both voiced by Eleanor Audley.  It says a lot, I think, about what a fantastic job Mrs. Audley did in Cinderella that she got the job voicing a second, dare I say scarier, Disney villain nine years later.  Lady Tremaine and Maleficent have a lot in common, but were completely different in the skills they used to pursue their own agendas.  Both characters inspired such dislike in viewers, their influence and fame live on today in more places than the original films.

Personally, I’m excited to see Maleficent (the movie) in May – I’ll be curious to see how true to the original character this version portrays Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis.  I’m also excited to see, also in May, Lady Tremaine and her darling daughters, Anastasia and Drizella  at 1900 Park Fare’s character dining experience (at Disney’s Grand Floridian).  These memorable (if not beloved) characters would not be so famous and so Maleficent on Sleeping Beauty movie coverpresent today had Eleanor Audley not done such a tremendous job on their first appearances.  The facial features of both villains were based on Mrs. Audley as drawn by Marc Davis.

So, we know that Eleanor Audley did sinister really well – she even voiced Madam Leota (originally) for the Haunted Mansions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but did you know she also appeared in many well-known TV shows of the 50’s and 60’s?  I won’t bore you with an exhaustive list, but the number of different shows for which Mrs. Audley appeared as a recurring (or one-time) character is mind-blowing!  Here are the ones that surprised me the most:

  • Father Knows Best (1956) – bit parts in several episodes
  • I Love Lucy (1957) – two episodes, different characters
  • The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1956-1958) – Four appearances as different characters
  • Dennis the Menace (1960) – One episode
  • Perry Mason (1958-1960) – Two episodes
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1963) – Bit part, one episode, Mrs. Billings in three episodes.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1964) – Three episodes as Mrs. Millicent Schuyler-Potts
  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1965) – One episode
  • Hazel (1961-1965) – Different characters in four episodes
  • Green Acres (1965-1969) – Played Mother Douglas in 14 episodes – Isn’t this GREAT?!!! Awesome!
  • My Three Sons (1969-1970) – Mrs. Vincent in 9 episodes

Well, there you go!  If you grew up on reruns of these shows like I did, isn’t it unbelievable that the lady who voiced Lady Tremaine and Maleficent appeared in so many of these programs?  Did Eleanor Audley’s appearance in any of these surprise you?