Monday, November 17, 2014

Review and Recast : Maleficent

Just last week, mom and I rented Maleficent, Disney's retelling of Sleeping Beauty. The movie was, boring.

I'll start by saying, I don't like Angelina Jolie. Other than as an action actress, I've never really enjoyed any of her performances. I don't think she can carry a film with her dramatic acting. It's a little hard to really get into a movie when you don't like the lead, and the lack of interesting plot in this movie didn't help.

maleficentposter

We start by seeing Maleficent as a child, who has wings and horns. She's the princess guardian of the fairy land, where humans aren't allowed. It's a classic magical creatures versus evil humans. As a child, Maleficent meets a young boy and they become friends. He comes back to her as a teenager, when a king wants to conquer her land. He betrays her and cuts off her wings, in lieu of killing her. He brings the wings back to the king and later gains the throne himself. When Maleficent discovers this, she curses his daughter. So that's where the two stories connect, and I figured that would be the end of it...except that was only about 15 minutes of the movie. Maleficent sets up these massive thorns to keep the humans out of her place and the three fairies who are trying to stay good with the humans take Aurora out into the woods, just like in the cartoon. During her time in the woods, Aurora meets Maleficent who basically stalks her throughout her entire childhood. Somehow, during this stalking, Maleficent realizes who Aurora is and actually comes to like her. Aurora also comes to like Maleficent and sees her as a fairy godmother. Later, when Aurora turns 16 and pricks her finger, Maleficent tries to remove the curse, which leads to a big fight where Aurora releases Maleficent's wings which have been alive this whole time, and she wreaks havoc. Finally everything ends, Maleficent removes the thorns and she and Aurora are friends again.

I mean, whatever. It's a pretty convoluted story that is just filling the space because recycling old films is apparently more successful than presenting new ideas. I wanted to be into this story, but I just wasn't feeling it. Also, the entire cast was white, which bugged the shit out of me. So, don't bother with the movie. It gets a C- from me.

maleficentcast

I've decided to recast the movie, because I like doing that. I think Hollywood is lazy and simply chooses white actors because...I don't know why. I don't even think people sit around and have actual discussions about integrating minorities into Hollywood or purposely excluding them. I think white actors are cast just because there are more of them and because that's just what we're used to. And that tires me.

For the lead role, we need someone who can sell a movie. There are two actors who are the right age to play grown up Maleficent and whom I think have the chops to carry the complicated feelings in the role in a way that Angelina Jolie couldn't. So for that role, I choose either Halle Berry or Jennifer Lopez.

maleficent

As for Sleeping Beauty herself, I'm not hung up on this idea that she has to be a little blonde girl. I think a princess can be a brunette and still be interesting and someone for young girls to dream about. I can't think of a lot of young actors who would play this role well, mostly because I don't watch The Disney Channel or Nickelodeon on the regular. But there was one actor who popped into my mind who I think would be a really beautiful Aurora. That actress is Zendaya. She came from The Disney Channel and even appeared on Dancing with the Stars, so I think there is an audience that would pay to see her, based on the name alone.

aurora

I'd like to recast King Stefan. He has a pretty solid role in the film but isn't really billed to sell the movie. I don't remember seeing any posters with King Stefan on them, but I think I have a guy in mind who could actually help sell the movie. Michael Peña has been around for a while and is starting to get more roles where he's actually mentioned in the trailers. I've been a fan of him since Crash.

stefan

Finally, if nowhere else in the movie, there's definitely room for some minorities in the roles of Flora, Fauna, and Merriwether; the three good fairies who raise Aurora. There's always been a little bit of comedy in these characters, so I chose three actors who are known for their tv roles in comedy; America Ferrera, Mindy Kahling, and Hannah Simone (an Indian actress who plays best friend to Zooey Deschanel's "Jess" on Fox's "New Girl"). Even though the fairies are played by women older than these actresses, I think young women can easily play the parts of the trio.

goodfairies

I don't actually think a recast would improve the film, since the plot was convoluted and remaking old stories is tired. But I do think that recasting the movie would at least make it far less annoying.

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