Wicked Maleficent

I saw Maleficent with my extended family ten days ago and let the movie sink in. Like rich food that needs time to digest. This was how I felt after reading Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.

Initially both Elphaba and Maleficent are feared because of they don’t adhere to the typical feminine template. Elphaba, is born green and Maleficent has horns.  The wicked witch is constantly compared with the pretty Galinda and the dark fairy is pitted against the three ditzy and petite flying godmothers.

Both are typecast as villains because they are strong, powerful and outspoken women who fight the inherent patriarchy and associated propaganda present in their society. Interestingly they are betrayed and hunted by men of power who are unwilling to recognize their wisdom and seek instead to suppress them. Both women retaliate by embracing their full potential and ride roughshod, uncontrolled over their worlds and have to pay a heavy price.

Elphaba is a reformer and all manner of grievances are laid at her doorstep as she is hunted. Maleficent is both Gaia and Kali. Nurturing at first and enraged later. Protective and destructive. Both women step over the edge when they erect thorny barriers and retreat into isolation.

Dorothy and Aurora are young girls who walk the world wide eyed and with an open heart.  Yet untainted by the world around them, they represent the unfettered inner child.

Disney’s departure from the typical fairytale where sleeping beauty slumbers till she is rescued is once and for all put to rest.  There are some discrepancies in the movie and the script could have been tighter. Angelina Jolie is nothing but spectacular as she essays the role to perfection. And Lana Del Rey reprises the classic Once Upon a Dream, adding her haunting voice to the soundtrack.

“I had wings once. They were strong. But they were stolen from me.” ~ Maleficent

 

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Marvelous Avengers

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Last Mother’s Day, I saw Thor and keeping with tradition, we decided to watch The Avengers on May 13.  The film was certified fresh…positive reviews from most critics and breaking box office records worldwide.

I had my own four reasons why I felt that this was a “fail proof mood lifter made for me” movie treat.

1. The brilliant Joss Whedon

If you weren’t familiar with Whedon, you have much catching up to do.  A small screen legend, Whedon moves to the celluloid with remarkable ease.  He has to be one of THE most creative people in Hollywood.  As a big Slayer fan, I had seen Whedon’s ground breaking work on the small screen and was thrilled to be able to catch his session at SXSW. Only Whedon could multi task with the ease of a consummate artist, writing, directing, dealing with plot complexity, multiple story arcs, relationship dynamics and weave it into a tight screenplay, inject humor and hold the movie together till the post end.

2. Men in tights, in metal, going green, a hammer, a widow and more

Each Avenger had enough baggage that had already been made into a full length block buster movie except perhaps the two spies.  Alpha super heroes look great mano a mano but would they play well in the sandbox? Who knew that they could pack a punch, dodge aliens and coalesce this well for a good cause.  The narrative is solid, not missing a beat and when my girls asked me “Hey mom, who was your favorite Avenger?”  I honestly was undecided.  Tony Stark raises the bar.  He has some great dialogue and sizzling chemistry with Paltrow’s Ms Potts.  Mark Ruffalo is fantastic as the laid back, tormented Dr Banner and as the raging out of control green destroyer.  Whedon always has strong female protagonists and he doesn’t disappoint with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow who pairs up well with the other super spy, Hawkeye played nicely by Jeremy Renner.  The old young man, Captain America doesn’t have much time to adapt after being frozen for 75 years and he doesn’t miss a beat either.  Hammer swinging Thor battling sibling rivalry issues with Loki is genius.

3. The Super Villain

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is menacing, brooding, sadistic and envious.  The typical outsider who is sick and tired of being mighty Thor’s little brother. He is the anti demi God who believes that freedom is wasted on the humans.  There is a great line in the movie where Loki is standing smirking after one of those easy human kills and already celebrating his sure fire victory and the dying guy tells him calmly “You’re going to fail because you lack conviction.”

4. Laughing out loud

Nothing brings the audience together than the heady combination of laughter and tension.  Think of the Avengers who are self absorbed in their own greatness and get pulled into attending a marriage presided by a secretive yet powerful patriarch.  Some of the squabbles remind you of any dysfunctional family trying to show off their powers and outmatch each other at the dinner table.

“Apparently I am volatile and don’t play well with others.” Tony Stark sums it up for himself and the others as well.

Stark and Banner banter: “Dr Banner, I am Tony Stark.  Your work is unparalleled. I am a huge fan of how you lose control and become this enormous rage monster.”

Whedon takes the time to interject humor and pathos, a common cause and suddenly it doesn’t matter if it is 3D or 2D, the story isn’t about stunning visual effects or the alien attack, it is a testament to the resilient human spirit.

I would give this movie two thumbs up and happy to throw my other fingers in too for good measure 🙂

Is it kid friendly? It is action packed but without bad language or sexual innuendo.  It’s PG 13 but IMHO, would say appropriate for 9 and above.

I leave you with some memorable Joss Whedon quotes from the past.

“The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s going to keep digging, he’s going to keep trying to do right and make up for what’s gone before, just because that’s who he is.”

”Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.”

“I think everyone who makes movies should be forced to do television. Because you have to finish. You have to get it done, and there are a lot of decisions made just for the sake of making decisions. You do something because it’s efficient and because it gets the story told and it connects to the audience.”

“Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that count. That’s when you find out who you are.”