Maleficent 2014

Maleficent 2014
Maleficent was a take on the Sleeping Beauty film made by Disney. Although this version was with live action. Angelina Jolie played the title lead.

The basic story of an evil witch cursing a princess to prick her finger on her 16th birthday and die remained mostly intact. The big change was that it started with Maleficent as a child and you get to see how she became evil. She starts a nice kind girl. The three fairies – pink, blue and green are also around. Although they are portrayed as bumbling idiots.

Maleficent rescues a boy; Stephen who has stolen a rock from the rock people living in her kingdom. They become an item, right up until he gives her a kiss on their sixteenth birthday. Maleficent becomes the protector of fairies.

A nearby king threatens Fairyland. There was a good battle, which Maleficent ensues victory by flying around and knocks the king off his horse! A twist is that Stephen, who kissed her, is in the king’s court. He is there when the king announces that anyone who can bring him Maleficent’s head will be king! Stephen lulls Maleficent into a false sense of security. When she falls asleep, he goes to kill her but cannot. Therefore, he chops off her wings!

Taking her wings back gets him the kingdom, the king dies and Stephen gets to succeed him. He marries another girl who becomes queen. They have a daughter Aurora, the one who will be Sleeping Beauty. The tale from there more or less follows the tale with a few twists and turns.

Although only the pink fairy gets to cast her gift of beauty on the baby princess, Maleficent is the one who changes her spell to send the princess into deep sleep rather than die.

I have to say, I wasn’t wowed by this. I didn’t like the fact the three good fairies were stupid. A boy breaking her heart causing Maleficent to become evil was a bit stale. Angelina’s portrayal was restrained, as if she wasn’t quite comfortable doing some of the stuff. King Stephen becomes a bit of fruitcake – again lacking any originality at all. It was like a textbook A-B of how to make one-dimensional characters. No one stood out very well.

Although there is a twist on the true love’s first kiss to awaken Sleeping Beauty. I did like that. In addition, there are some good scenes between Maleficent and her cohort, who becomes the customary crow but also other animals too. The barrier of thorns remained.

However, the King’s guards were just as bumbling as the three friaries. In fact, the three fairies had so little to do, I’m surprised the director didn’t lump them into one character. Being good doesn’t mean you’re thick!

Therefore, I’m giving 7/10 for this movie. Good in places but a little long, which I think the youngsters will struggle with and it’s filled with basic characters.

Image reproduced from impawards.com
Trailer reproduced from Disney Movie Trailers

Hercules (2014)

Hercules (2014 film)
Hercules was played by Dwayne Johnson. Now this production was packed with lots of action and battle scenes.

In this adaptation, the tale is kept true in the fact that Hercules is the son of Zeus, who is the lead god in ancient Greece. However, Zeus had an affair with a mortal woman, so Hercules is a demi-god. Zeus’ wife Hera is very angry and set out to kill Hercules! Instead, she set him a challenge, twelve labours to endure. Should he survive them, he may live.

Then the tale cuts to Hercules’ cousin telling the tales, the cousin has been held captive by a gang of thugs. Hercules shows up to save his cousin and has his own gang to help him fight.

This Hercules and his troop are mercenaries going from town to town, destroying monsters or running other gangs outta town – for a price! The profits are spilt between them. To one gang he says, ‘Die or leave, I still get paid!’

In the local inn a woman approaches Hercules with an offer to help their town. Her father Lord Cotys, King of Thrace, will pay Hercules in gold the amount – will be based on Hercules weight! (So it’ll be a lot of gold!)
Then there’s another flashback where Hercules seems to be married with kids. Then something terrible has happened to them. Is this why Hercules lives like an outcast?

One of his gang is a Seer Amphiaraus, (Ian McShane – Lovejoy). Arriving at Lord Cotys’ (John Hurt) camp, the man has a reduced army with only farmers to replace his fallen warriors. Hercules must train the army. Steve Peacock, (Brax in Home & Away), plays one of the farmers I think.

Lord Cotys’ enemy is a man called Rheseus. Who is rumoured to have centaurs at his command. In their search for him, they go through mountains ranges and travel far. Hercules’ cousin tries to sneak in the army to join in the battle but Hercules spots him and makes him go in the chariot that Lord Cotys’ will be riding, under maximum protection.

Visions of a three headed wolf and nightmares about his murdered family haunt him. Did the beast of Hades’ strike his family during the night to get at him? Had Hera driven him mad and made him kill them? Why can’t he remember the night clearly? What did happen? Is the beast his final challenge to appease Hera, so it will continue to chase him forever?

There comes a massive battle as Rheseus has hidden an army who ambush them. Only Hercules’ idea to use the chariots saves the day. But that battle was only the warm up act, there’s still Rhesus to face and the shocks in store may unhinge Hercules.

This movie was very good. A likeable hero, aided by good friends. A very different take on the legend, where swearing is prevalent. I’m not sure ancient Greece knew those words!
The scenery was amazing, sweeping mountain views, whooshing across forests and valleys. That was breathtaking. Excellent CGI and many twists and turns ensure an enjoyable ride.

8/10 from me. It would’ve been a ten but for the swearing, which I didn’t think was necessary and it did bring the tone down.

Image reproduced from wikipedia.com
Trailer reproduced from CBMTrailers