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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The whole film is obviously one toward Maleficent herself.
    • Stefan is definitely a target for this as well.
      • When he clipped Maleficent's wings, did he do it to make sure her life was spared, or did he do it just because he wanted to be crowned king but didn't have the nerve to kill her? Maybe it's a mix of both, but how much each purpose drove him is the driving question in all of this. His hesitance in killing her invites this debate.
      • He's much more evil in the novelization, where he murders King Henry after Henry laughs in his face for thinking that he could become king. However, there are also scenes that describe him feeling incredibly guilty about what he did to Maleficent and says that "he had only done what was necessary", and that if it had been any other man she would have been killed instead. Of course, he promptly subverts this in the final battle when he tells Maleficent he's "always regretted never killing [her] when he had the chance."
      • The novelization also makes it clear that he was a cold and calculating bastard from the start, going so far as to let Maleficent think he had given back the only jewel he had, when really he was keeping an extra in his pocket.
      • He's shown to be upset when Aurora is asleep. The novelization has Knotgrass ponder if he's genuinely sad his daughter succumbed to her curse, or rather, if he is instead infuriated that Maleficent has won. (The latter fuels the idea that he sees Aurora only as a pawn in his conflict.)
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    • The three fairies. Were they truly unfit, bumbling parents, or did the curse make them that way out of necessity to give Maleficent and Diaval a reason to approach her, raise her, and come to love her, as she stated in the curse (all will love her)? The curse has been shown to be able to manipulate and even outright control others to ensure that everything comes to pass, so it probably isn't a stretch to assume that the curse made them terrible parents.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Aurora seems pretty all right despite having both her parents dead by the film's end.
  • Anvilicious: Maleficent's wings being stolen is not remotely subtle about being a rape allegory, the bad guys in the story are all men, Maleficent is the female leader of a good guy army and the bad guy armies are led by men, any empowered men are shown to be evil, and the kiss that wakes Aurora up is from a woman.
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  • Ass Pull: At the climax of the film, after all the fuss made over Maleficent losing her wings, it turns out that fairy wings apparently stay fully intact and functional after they’re severed, and that they automatically reattach to their owner's body unless restrained from doing so. There's no Foreshadowing for either of these facts. The novelization makes some effort to foreshadow this by mentioning the wings moving when Stefan loads them onto the cart, shows them to Henry and them fluttering in the glass case when Stefan's talking to them. The idea that they can be reattached still isn't mentioned, though.
  • Awesome Music: The menacing drum beats and vocalizing during Aurora's baptism.
    • The Spindle's Power Fast-paced and loud violins, slower chanting crescendo, heavy drum beats, trombone, cellos, French horn.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Of sorts; the Three Good Fairies get into a fight over whether or not Aurora is meant to be returned on the day of or the day after her sixteenth birthday. Said fight results in Knotgrass getting a blue stain on her face, courtesy of Flittle. When Aurora walks in to talk to them, the stain is gone, and no one mentions the fight afterwards. Even stranger is the fact that Aurora does notice the stain; but instead of commenting on it, she just tilts her head in confusion before changing the subject.note 
  • Broken Base:
    • The entire existence of the film. One position is that it is an interesting updated fairy tale that does away with problematic logic in the original. The other position is that Disney's ultimate satanic archetype villain didn't need a sympathetic Start of Darkness complete with a Nerf bat or deconstruction in general. Not very reconcilable.
    • In fandom, is shipping Aurora with either Diaval or Maleficent considered ephebophilia (Aurora is 16 and Elle Fanning was 15 during filming), or is it just fiction and people need to ship and let ship? (It should be noted that some fics that do ship them together make a point of either setting the story years later, when Aurora is at least eighteen, or are AU stories where she's stated to be old enough to attend university.)
    • For that matter, Elle Fanning as Aurora. Either she was perfect for the part, or she just didn't work as Aurora. However, some of these criticisms stem from people claiming she was too young for the role.
    • The True Love between Maleficent and Aurora. Was it really just a mother/daughter relationship like the filmmakers say it is, or was it truly meant to be a romantic relationship? There's no denying that there's something there, but exactly what that "something" is has become a matter of debate.
    • Whether this is better than all of the recent Disney remakes. While it does has flaws, many argue that the movie does at least do something different with the story as oppose to just being a live action recycle remake of the original film as with other Disney remakes, especially with the 2019 remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King being almost too similar to the original films. And of course whether the fact that it's 'different' makes it 'better' or not.
  • Cliché Storm: For some this is a laundry list of revisionist fairy tale cliches - villain now has a tragic backstory, a previously heroic character is turned evil, the prince and princess don't end up together, True Love's Kiss comes from non-romantic love (Once Upon A Time did that too), turning the female characters into Action Girls - the only thing that's missing is a Prince Charmless or a Token Minority (though if you read into the Aurora and Maleficent Les Yay, you do get that).
  • Critical Dissonance: While the film's reviews have been mixed (with a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes), audience reactions have been much more enthusiastic (70% on RT and an A on Cinema Score). It also opened #1 at the box office with $69 million, and earned a total of $241 million domestically, and another $517 million overseas (more than double the domestic gross), for a total of $758 million worldwide.
  • Cry for the Devil: This film isn't just a Perspective Flip, it turns Maleficent's own role in the original story on its head and makes her as sympathetic as it can possibly get.
  • Death of the Author: Linda Woolverton has stated that she still sees Philip and Aurora getting together in the near future. Most people who ship Aurora with someone else tend to ignore that.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: This movie is sometimes referred to as "Draco In Leather Pants: The Movie" due to its portrayal of Maleficient as not just "sympathetic", but as the supposed ~true hero~ of the story. After lots of demonization of Aurora's father and demotion of both the fairies and her love interest, which is almost a carbon copy of what fandom does to anyone who opposes their DILP'd villains.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Diaval. As seen here, "Only Disney can make you fall in love with a bird!"
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Maleficent was already this before this movie and many would argue that this movie made Maleficent an even sexier villainess than before. Especially with Angelina Jolie portraying her, as fanarts would often cite her as a perfect casting choice even before the movie was announce.
    • Disney executives wanted to capitalize on Angelina Jolie's attractiveness for promoting the film, but she insisted on adhering to the character's menacing look. Judging by early promotional photos, fan reaction varies as to whether or not this was successful.
    • Maleficent's raven sidekick is given an attractive human form too, though that's as much about giving her someone to have conversations with.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Frozen fans, due to how both films have similar themes and are Fractured Fairy Tales. Some fans of Sleeping Beauty also don't mind the film, though they do make a point of stressing that it is an Alternate Continuity. And both have a sizeable LGBT Fanbase.
  • Gotta Ship 'Em All: Given that there are only four characters portrayed with any degree of sympathy, this is inevitable. Fan-favorite pairings include Maleficent/Aurora or Maleficent/Diaval. Either pairing tends to trigger Pair the Spares, leaving either Diaval/Phillip or Aurora/Philip, depending on whether your fancy is for het or slash pairings.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Prior to this film, Elle Fanning had starred in the film Ginger and Rosa, wherein her character Ginger grew increasingly fearful of dying due to Mutually Assured Destruction. At one point her character breaks down, saying, "I don't want to die! I want to grow up and do things!" Said words could also accurately describe Aurora's sadness in the third act of the film, only in relation to her death sleep.
    • One of the interviews on the film's Blu-Ray has Jolie mention an argument her kids had over whether or not Maleficent was evil. If anything, it can be seen as a microcosm of the fandom's Broken Base.
    • Prince Philip is often cited as the first Disney Prince to be proactive and have some significant Character Development. Here, however, he's derailed to make Maleficent's love seen more powerful than his own (albeit justified in-narrative as Philip himself admits he doesn't know Aurora well enough yet where Maleficent has been indirectly raising her for years).
    • Walt Disney's original treatment of the fairies was for them to be Single Minded Triplets. He was persuaded to make them more unique and distinguished — and the original film has been praised for its diverse female characters. Come this movie and the three fairies are all interchangeable and incompetent.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Sleeping Beauty, Flora and Merryweather argued over whether Aurora's dress should be pink or blue. Most official media for that film portrays Aurora wearing pink. Then comes this film, and Aurora's main dress (the one she wears during the final battle) is blue.
    • In Sleeping Beauty, Fauna suggests that they attempt to reason with Maleficent, suggesting she can't be all bad. She's of course, hilariously wrong on this point for that depiction, but then comes this film, in which Maleficent is most certainly not pure evil.
    • In 2013, a Disney fan made a Chicago parody called Spell Block Tango. The video included Maleficent, who was in love with Stefan until they broke up due to "artistic differences". A similar scenario ends up happening in the film.
    • Just like the original film, Aurora turning sixteen is a huge plot point. This film came out May 2014, a month after Elle Fanning herself turned sixteen.
    • This isn't the first time one of the Fanning sisters encountered a dangerous fairy who serves as a mother-like figure. To be fair to Maleficent, though, she turns out to be a much better parental figure than the Other Mother. Even better, Coraline was a British girl in the book, but was made to be American in the film version, just like Dakota, whereas Aurora is played by equally American Elle using an English accent.
    • During a press interview for the film, Elle made a joke about how Disney should adapt Dumbo into a live-action film. Disney is indeed doing that.
    • Ella Purnell briefly plays the teenage Maleficent - a fairy whose wings are unwillingly stolen from her. Her next big role is the film adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - where she plays a girl who can float lighter than air and has to weigh herself down with heavy boots.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Sure, Aurora is happy as serving as the queen of both realms, but the human kingdom is not shown after Maleficent kills King Stefan - and a power-vacuum likely ensued from the sudden shock of his death. Not to mention that Maleficent doesn't exactly have good public relations with mankind, and Aurora basically sided with her without explaining herself to that kingdom. Notably, A cut ending had that Aurora discarded her humanity and became outright Maleficient's daughter and heiress, but they changed it to that she chose to rule over both.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Reviewers negative and positive about the film tend to agree that Angelina Jolie as Maleficent is the best thing about the film. Everything else is up for debate.
  • Les Yay: Aurora and Maleficent for a certain audience, if you don't mind implications of Wife Husbandry. It is No Yay for everyone else.
  • LGBT Fanbase: Has one in regards to Aurora and Maleficent's relationship. While it was intended to be akin to a mother/daughter one, some have pointed out how the narrative can also be interpreted as a same-sex Mayfly–December Romance. Adding to this is the observation posted here that some of Maleficent's scenes (particularly concerning her interacting with Aurora) bear an uncanny resemblance to Philip's scenes in the original.
  • Misattributed Song: A lot of people are under the impression that it's Angelina Jolie singing the film's cover of "Once Upon a Dream". It's actually Lana Del Rey. That it sounds an awful lot like Jolie's Maleficent voice is probably intentional, and perhaps a veiled invocation of Non-Singing Voice, with the idea being that it is indeed Maleficent singing.
  • Moe: Aurora is indeed a darling girl who would guilelessly charm all who meet her. Along with Maleficent, the two form a nice Moe Couplet.
  • Moral Event Horizon: King Stefan's crimes:
    • He betrayed and mutilated Maleficent.
    • He hesitates quite a long time before begging for his daughter's life.
    • The novelization presents Stefan handing Maleficent's severed wings to King Henry, who is on his deathbed. Although Henry is impressed by Stefan's deed, he laughs at the notion of Stefan marrying his daughter and succeeding him (even though that's exactly what he promised to whoever could kill Maleficent) as Stefan is just a mere servant. Stefan's response to this is to calmly pick up a pillow and smother the weakened king. To cap things off, he forges Henry's seal after he dies, to make it seem like Henry actually did appoint him as his successor.
  • Narm:
    • The credits music of "Once Upon A Dream" feels cheesy and out of place, especially since the rest of the film isn't a musical. Not helping matters is how divorced the song sounds from its original context.
    • The fact that the Used to Be a Sweet Kid fairy was named Maleficent - a name which literally means "evil doer". She could have at least given herself a Meaningful Rename.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • This article points out that many of the alterations done to the story, while different from the original animated film, are in fact similar to older incarnations of the original fairy tale. It also argues that the film is more of a retelling of the fairy tale than Disney's own adaptation. Another post by the same person also points out how one of the main plot points — Maleficent's wings being stolen — comes off as a twisted version of the "Swan Maiden" stories that have variations all over the world.
    • Some viewers were under the impression that Maleficent was made into a fairy specifically for this film; even Linda Woolverton was under the impression that Maleficent was a simple witch. It was after researching the original fairy tale that she realized it was a fairy, not a witch, who cursed the princess. This did, however, lead to her wondering where Maleficent's wings went...
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Aurora is a very popular princess with Disney fans, but that is mainly because she is a shining example of a Princess Classic even amongst the other Disney Princess characters. Personality wise, many Disney enthusiasts pass her over for being seen as a "boring" Flat Character. Aurora's depiction in the live action reboot has much more of a clear personality than she did in the original Sleeping Beauty adaptation, leading to Aurora gaining a lot of fans. In fact some people who hate the film claim that Aurora's characterization is the best thing about it.
  • The Scrappy
    • The three Fairies aren't very much liked, especially since they were the most popular characters in the originals. Here, they've all taken a level in dumbass and are generally careless and obnoxious.
    • Stefan has few fans and is sometimes called the worst aspect of the movie as a whole. Aside from the character's Adaptational Villainy in order to make Maleficent look better and his abrupt change from a good kid with bad influences to an evil villain, Sharlto Copley's unsubtle performance was downright unpleasant for most audiences.
  • Shallow Parody: The scene where Philip says he can't kiss Aurora because he barely knows her and she's unconscious is clearly responding to uncomfortable parallels people drew between the original and rape culture. Except, as a writer of The Mary Sue pointed out, comparing the climax of Sleeping Beauty to sexual assault is taking it out of context. Aurora is not just merely asleep or unconscious - she's literally cursed in an enchanted sleep that she'll never wake from, and the kiss is the only thing that can save her. The kiss is not being done with malicious intent, as it's the only thing that will wake her from the enchanted sleep. Philip is also not some stranger who sees an unconscious girl and decides to kiss her; he's her fiance who she was in love with (she burst into tears when told she couldn't see him again) and he was told he had to kiss her to break the curse. And that once Aurora wakes up, she very clearly doesn't have a problem with Philip kissing her.
    "This is not a drunken accidental hook up, or an older male authority figure taking advantage of a younger co-worker. He is literally saving her from an eternity of sleep...Non-verbal consent is a thing, and Aurora gives Phillip plenty of it in her body language once she is comfortable around him and her reaction to Phillip during her awakening. She is not upset about being kissed, she got kissed by someone she liked, she would have kissed him if she was awake..."
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: There's a very slight one between the three major ships: Aurora/Diaval (Diavora), Maleficent/Aurora (Malora) and Maleficent/Diaval (Maleval).
  • So Bad, It's Good: An increasingly popular opinion of the film is that it tries so hard to depict Maleficent as Not Evil, Just Misunderstood and differentiate itself from the animated classic that it ends up a full-blown Cliché Storm about how Maleficent never actually did anything evil and the real villains are everyone in the story not named Maleficent. Combine that with some cheesy feel-good Hollywood tropes and you've got a modern classic for your Bad Movie Night.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Audiences and critics came away from the film praising the dazzling special effects, intriguing concept and inspired casting of Angelina Jolie in the title role (and Diaval). Few, however, were forgiving of how it also threw out everything that worked in Sleeping Beauty in favor of Protagonist-Centered Morality.
  • Special Effects Failure: The Pixies are hit hard by Uncanny Valley, and the various innocent fairy creatures stick out like sore thumbs. Somehow, by contrast, Maleficent's magic, the living trees under her orders and Diaval's various forms have the best special effects.
  • Squick: Meta example: Just like the original film, Phillip tries to awaken Aurora with True Love's Kiss. However, at the time of filming, Brenton Thwaites would have been around twenty-three/twenty-four, whereas Elle Fanning would have been fifteen at the most. Makes his "are you freaking kidding me" reaction all the more amusing.
  • Maleficent/Aurora falls under this if you see it as romantic, as Maleficent is old enough to be her mother.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Toddler!Aurora, despite only getting one scene, manages to win over even Maleficent with her cuteness. It's worth mentioning that she was played by Angelina Jolie's own daughter, making the scene even sweeter.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • That Maleficent was changed on the lines of a misunderstood Anti-Hero, in part due to the huge Double Standards that this this implies: "male villains can be evil without needing to get a sad backstory forced on them, but villainesses must always have their motivations and actions justified even if it degrades their characters".
    • The names of Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are also changed (Flittle, Thistlewit, and Knotgrass) and their personalities are "neglectful and superficial." That's quite a far cry from their portrayal in the previous Disney rendition, where they were vital in Aurora's salvation and Maleficent's worst nightmare. There are those who view the name change positively since it furthers the notion that they are not the same characters from the animated film.
    • King Stefan is the Big Bad and Maleficent only becomes evil after he breaks her heart, which is considered a very cliché motivation. Plus Stefan was shown as nothing but kind in the original movie, so seeing him reduced to an evil villain for no other reason than making Maleficient sympathetic was seen as stupid.
    • There was an uprising when a trailer revealed that Maleficent used to have wings.
    • Maleficent's iconic dragon form being given to her raven instead.
    • Maleficent knowing Aurora's location and even befriending her, as opposed to searching for her for sixteen years.
    • Aurora no longer being referred to as Briar Rose.
    • The wrong fairy is interrupted at the baptism (It's supposed to be the blue fairy, not the green fairy.) The might be a bit of Fridge Brilliance, since we now get to find out what the blue fairy's gift would have been anyway. Also, this was not a musical, so the green fairy's gift of song would have been redundant.
    • In the animated film, Aurora is one of four Disney Princessesnote  to have both her parents alive, having given her up to the fairies for her own well-being. Here, her mother Leila dies off-screen without even getting to see her grown daughter and her father dies after going mad. It also was seen as taking Leila out of the story for no other reason than favoring Maleficent as Aurora's "mother figure", which coupled with the Adaptational Wimp treatment the faeries is easy to see as "all women in this movie save for Aurora must be brought down to make Maleficent the best female character on screen."
    • Maleficent living in the end, which calls for a difficult debate. Some would think having her live was too cheap a move, though having her die protecting Aurora wouldn't make people too happy either.
  • They Copied It, Now It Sucks: Many of the people that dislike this film feel that it took too many liberties from Wicked and that it didn't work well due to Maleficent being far too complex of a character to make her feel sympathetic, due to her being the mistress of all evil and for being one of the most well liked Disney villains.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Queen Ulla and King Kinloch played by Miranda Richardson and Peter Capaldi were cut in order to shorten the film to a little over 90 minutes.
    • Philip was the first Disney Prince to get something resembling characterization in the original film, as well as providing an action-packed climax. Here he's Demoted to Extra and any of his good moments are given to Maleficent to prop her Adaptational Heroism even more.
    • Queen Leila sadly has even less to do than her animated counterpart! Despite being the first Disney Princess's mother to be alive and well at the end of the film (as well as Disney's first benevolent queen), no attempt is made to expand her role. Especially since - in comparison to the loving couple she and Stefan were in the original - here she's a trophy wife only married to give Stefan an heir. This could have made for some fascinating conflict if she found out about Stefan and Maleficent's history, as well as Maleficent's growing relationship with her daughter. She's Demoted to Extra (and for a character who had two lines in the original, that's saying something) and killed off-screen - enforcing the much maligned Disposable Woman trope in a story about female empowerment.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The first act successfully introduces a creative and poignant backstory for Maleficent, making her evil seem both understandable and very human. But almost immediately after, the movie tosses out the idea of being a prequel to Sleeping Beauty, instead choosing to retell the story of Sleeping Beauty in a way that outright contradicts it. While such a retelling ordinarily wouldn't be a problem, it has the unintended effect of making the first act feel wasted, since it essentially becomes a backstory for a story that never really happened. And after introducing a perfectly compelling explanation of how Maleficent became evil, the movie throws that out the window and decides that Maleficent was Not Evil, Just Misunderstood...making one wonder why the writers bothered to "explain" her evil at all.
    • The original script would have Maleficent be much colder towards Aurora and leave her to die in the woods - and then it would be Diaval who cared for her in secret and slowly brought Maleficent around. This could have solved the accusations that the film shilled Maleficent too much (depicting her dealing with her trauma by at first punishing the child of her pseudo-rapist before earning her redemption by caring for her - as opposed to inexplicably taking care of Aurora minutes after cursing her) and allowing another character to influence the story in a positive way.
    • Another early draft portrayed Queen Leila as a Reasonable Authority Figure to Stefan, who survived to the end. This would have allowed the film to tackle the complex issue of Leila discovering that her daughter has now grown close to the very woman who condemned her to death in the first place.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: The film's story is pretty silly, essentially applying Draco in Leather Pants to one of the most evil characters in the Disney Animated Canon. And yet Angelina Jolie delivers such a great performance as Maleficent - to the point that some only watch the movie for her.
  • Tough Act to Follow: For some, the film wouldn't have been too divisive if the story was its own (i.e. A separate adaptation of the fairy tale, probably like Snow White and the Huntsman). However, seeing as it's based on Disney's 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, which itself introduced many a Disney fan to a villainess who is the epitome of Evil Is Cool, it's easy to see why some people are a bit mixed over the alterations.
  • Ugly Cute: The mud-throwing trolls in the Moors.
  • Uncanny Valley: The fairies just look off when they aren't using their human forms. At least part of it is that they have childlike proportions in fairy form (large heads with relatively small bodies), but they're also clearly animated.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: It's got a PG-rating in the US, despite having some genuinely dark imagery (the Battle of the Moors, for example), and some pretty grim themes (rape metaphor, anyone?). May well be the darkest PG-rated Disney fantasy film since Prince Caspian.
    • It also received merchandise geared to girls, including dolls both before and after getting her wings cut off. Given that this is a Disney film it was a given. Even more it was THIS version of Maleficent that was featured in the Disney Infinity line as a way to tie in to the movie.
  • What the Hell, Costuming Department?:
    • At the climax of the movie, Maleficent temporarily casts aside her famous black robe in favor of a nearly skintight black catsuit. Not only does a Spy Catsuit seem incredibly out-of-place in a medieval Sword & Sorcery film, pairing it with Mal's iconic horned cowl just makes it look even sillier.
    • Phillip's odd choice of hairstyle looks more like a late 2000s surfer dude than a prince in Medieval Europe.
  • The Woobie: Aurora. An innocent, young girl caught in the crossfire of Maleficent and Stefan's feud. Raised without knowing who she really is, or even about the curse placed on her, and learning about said curse breaks her. Even more so if one reads the novelizations, which add more information about her thoughts as the story progresses.


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