Outside of the fashion it inspired and Angelina Jolie’s performance,  I wasn’t a fan of the Disney live-action version of “Sleeping Beauty” told with a more sympathetic perspective.  Named for the villainess, “Maleficent,” stars Angelina Jolie as the title character.

As the Sleeping Beauty, Elle Fanning gets to use her blonde hair and dark eyebrows to be a freshly sweet, girlish Aurora. There were problems with the script, but no problems with the chemistry between the stars. What makes this DVD/Blu-ray worth-owning is you get to see some behind the scenes clips which will make you want to see the scenes over. The best of these scenes are about how they made Angelina Jolie as Maleficent fly or Elle Fanning’s Aurora float.

An older woman tells the story of Maleficent, beginning when she is a young girl and meets and befriends a human peasant named Stefan. Yet when Stefan grows older, he forgets about Maleficent and grow greedy. Serving under the neighboring king who was bitterly beaten by an army led by Maleficent, Stefan betrays Maleficent by cutting off her wings and giving them to the king. The king promises both the crown and his daughter to Stefan.

Maleficent saves a raven Diaval who serves as her wings. He brings her news of the Stefan’s betrayal and later of the birth of a child. Maleficent gets her revenge upon King Stefan by cursing his daughter. Three pixies take the young princess, Aurora, to a small cottage where they attempt to raise her, but only Maleficent is able to ensure that Aurora grows up safe and as her fairy godmother, she introduces Aurora to the woodland creatures, including the fairies. Maleficent comes to regret her curse, but can’t undo it.

Of course, this being a Disney feature, there will be a happy ending. In this telling of the tale, Maleficent isn’t the bad guy although she does some wicked things.

Bonus Features:

  • Aurora: Becoming a Beauty: Is about Elle Fanning’s casting. It includes interviews with Fanning and Jolie and some behind the scenes shots with stunt people in blue suits against a blue screen for the mud fight and the preparations and shooting of the sleeping scene because Sleeping Beauty does have to sleep.
  • From Fairy Tale to Feature Film: Linda Woolverton discusses how she used the source material–the original Disney animated film–and developed this script. Jolie expresses her initial interest and her doubts. The executive producer Palak Patel and the producer Joe Roth are included in the comments. The main problem is how to make Maleficent sympathetic because what kind of person/fairy would curse an innocent child? Once Jolie was on board, Jolie was able to make contributions to the character. Woolverton expresses how important it was to be loyal to the original Disney animated version. Sam Riley recalls how embarrassing to be an person being an animal. Jolie discusses why her daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt was cast.
  • Building an Epic Battle: When I watched the epic battle at the end of the first act, I didn’t notice the fake horse, but there are several times when a horse isn’t a horse, but a semi-mechanized dummy. Are you interested in stunts? This segment includes interviews with stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart and special effects supervisor Michael Dawson intercut with scenes from the movie with and without the blue screen magic. You won’t get an interview with second unit director Simon Crane, but you’ll see him in action.  Cary Villegas, the senior visual effects supervisor, also explains some part of the battle scene. You’ll see the blue screens, the wires and the harnesses and just want to see those scenes again. That’s the fun here, the movie magic.
  • Classic Couture: For me, more than the story, this movie was about fashion and if you want to see and her about the sensibilities surrounding Maleficent’s headdress watch this and you’ll get close ups.
  • Maleficent Revealed: Takes us across many different scenes and peals away the layers of technology and then puts them back in a fast but fun segment that covers:
  1. As Maleficent and Stephan as children with Maleficent flying in front of blue screens
  2. The big battle scene
  3. Flying around the castle
  4. Diaval’s first transformation
  5. Making of the iconic cursing of the kid scene
  6. Pixie cottage
  7. Elle Fanning’s floating scene from blue screen to the forest
  8. Elle Fanning and the finger prick scene
  9. Maleficent and the fake rearing horse
  10. Dragon in the court scene
  11. Angelina Jolie and the return of her wings

Deleted Scenes: Are like a way to justified having wasted film. You will get to see more about some of the characters, but you can also see why these weren’t essential to the story telling.

  • Stefan in the King’s Chamber
  • Pixies Seek Asylum
  • Pixie Idiots
  • Diaval Asks About the Curse
  • Suitor

“Maleficient” will be released by Walt Disney Studios on 4 November 2014 on DVD and Blu-ray.

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