Trailer Wednesday: Maleficent

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be fascinating.

We’ve gotten what will probably be the final trailer for Maleficent, now that the film is just two months away, and this final trailer goes deeper into the story we’re going to see, while giving us some new looks as well.  The first trailer mostly focused on the film’s imagery, while telling us little about the movie itself.  The second trailer gave us a bit more, while highlighting the parallels between Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty.  But this final trailer is the one that for the first time has lead me to being genuinely excited about the film, beyond the curiosity that had held my interest thus far, though I fully admit that it may just be the dragon that’s gotten my attention.  Take a look below, and read on for my breakdown of the trailer:

The trailer opens with the same scene we’ve seen featured before, the cursing of Aurora as a baby.  However, this trailer opens with an especially haunting rendition of the song “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty that really helps set the tone.  Maleficent arrives to curse the baby, with her faithful raven companion at her side, looking especially sassy and confident.

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The other fairies, Thistlewit, Knotgrass and Flittle try to intervene, but Maleficent easily dispatches them with a flick of her wrist.

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She then enacts her curse, although interestingly her curse in Maleficent is different than in Sleeping Beauty.  Here, she explicitly curses Aurora so that she’ll fall into a sleep “like death” before the end of her 16th birthday.  In the original animated film, her curse was that Aurora would die from the finger prick, but the curse was softened by one of the fairies, who changed it so that she would only sleep until awoken by true love’s kiss.  It’ll be interesting to see the reasons behind this change with regards to Maleficent’s motivation.

The trailer also focuses a bit more attention on Sharlto Copley’s King Stefan, who seemingly has a dark history with Maleficent, and we get our first shot of him here.

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We once again see Maleficent befriending a now-teenaged Aurora (Elle Fanning), with that “I’m not afraid,” “Then come out,” “Then you’ll be afraid,” exchange that we’ve heard over and over again by this point.  We also get a better look at Maleficent’s raven, Diaval, seen here in human form and played by Sam Riley.  I’m still undecided on whether I think Diaval is a human who Maleficent turns into a raven, or if he’s a raven that she turns into a human.  We’ll see later, however, that he can turn into other things too.

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Maleficent befriends Aurora, and Aurora asks her, “All the other fairies fly, why don’t you?”  Maleficent tells her, “I had wings once, they were strong.  But they were stolen from me.”  We get to see her wings, something new to the trailers, either in a flashback or in an earlier section of the movie.  She soars through some pretty locations, but she also uses the wings to blow over a group of soldiers.

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Things then get a little more serious as Maleficent teaches Aurora that, “There is evil in this world.  Hatred and revenge.”  It can’t be a good sign that we get some more, rather menacing, looks at King Stefan here, as it seems pretty clear that he’s at least somewhat responsible for Maleficent’s current wingless state.

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We get a series of shots of a battle between Maleficent and a large group of soldiers.  Maleficent is able to conjure warriors and beasts from the earth, to fight on her side, “I call on those who live in the shadows.  Fight for me now!”  Given the fact that she has wings during this sequence, and that she looks a bit younger, I would assume all of this is happening pre-Aurora, and probably was the battle that cost Maleficent her wings, so I would suspect we know the outcome already.  It’s interesting that she conjures a dragon made of earth here, as dragons have a key part to play in the Maleficent mythology since she famously turned into one at the end of Sleeping Beauty.

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As the action reaches a peak, Aurora tearfully asks, “Is it true?  Are you Maleficent?”  It seems like Maleficent hasn’t been completely honest with Aurora about her identity while they’ve become friends, but it’s also obvious that Aurora has heard stories of Maleficent from someone.  I’m really curious how their relationship will play out in the film, and what they have to teach each other.  In Sleeping Beauty the driving narrative was the love story between Prince Phillip and Aurora, and him attempting to rescue her, but so far we’ve seen next to nothing of Phillip (played in the movie by Brenton Thwaites).  He will obviously have a part to play, but it seems like the film is set up to focus more on the women of the story, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

At the very end of the trailer we get the part that has everyone talking: the dragon.  Famously, at the end of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent turned into a dragon in order to stop Prince Phillip.  As a dragon, she looked a little something like this:

The shots of the dragon this time are very quick, although there’s one interesting thing to take note of.  It appears that a raven turns into the dragon, which makes me question whether we’re seeing Maleficent as a dragon or her sidekick, Diaval.  We haven’t seen Maleficent change forms in any of the trailers, but we have seen Diaval turn from raven to human and back, which seems to indicate that this is actually Diaval as the dragon.  Also, the dragon breathes regular fire instead of Maleficent’s trademark green fire, and we’ve seen that in this movie Maleficent has the same green color to her magic.

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However, take a look at the picture below and compare it to Maleficent’s dragon form from Sleeping Beauty.  The dragon below seems to have the same horns and the same snout shape, which might mean that it really is Maleficent.  At this point it’s obviously too soon to say.  This could be anything, and could take place at any point in the film.  I like to think they wouldn’t completely change the dramatic finale of Sleeping Beauty that we all know, but on the other hand they could have an interesting twist planned.  We’ll have to wait and see.

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Regardless of who this really is turning into a dragon, or when it takes place in the film, I have to say that this is one impressive dragon.  Dragons are such a hard thing to get right on film, both from a design standpoint and from a filming standpoint.  It’s one thing to have an awesome-looking dragon but it means nothing if you don’t know how to shoot/animate/light it.  Obviously we’ve only gotten a quick look thus far, but I like what I see.  Of course, all film dragons will inevitably be measured against Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer, the very best of all film dragons.  But that is as it should be.

As for Maleficent, I’m really starting to look forward to it.  Every trailer has been more interesting than the last, and I’m excited to see more of Maleficent’s story.  The film looks gorgeous, but beyond that I hope there’s a story worth seeing here, and I think there is.  So often movie villains are either given no explanation for their condition, or something flimsy or shallow to motivate them (like not being invited to a christening).  I can’t wait to see what backstory they can come up with in Maleficent that would drive a fairy to curse a child.

What do you think?  Are you looking forward to Maleficent?  What are your thoughts on what we’ve seen of the story thus far?  What are you most interested in seeing?  Who do you think is the dragon at the end of the trailer?  What do you think of its design (as well as the design of the rest of the film)?  Let me know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Trailer Wednesday: Maleficent

  1. As before, this was a movie I hadn’t thought of seeing but the trailers are beginning to change that.
    Consider, though, if we didn’t have Sleeping Beauty or knew the (other?) story already. Would this movie then be interesting? Is it just because we are looking for a fresh take on an existing story?

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    • This is an excellent question! We would still have the legend of Sleeping Beauty even without the film, but obviously Maleficent is intentionally playing directly off the film. It’s kind of like the question of whether Wicked would be as interesting if we weren’t already familiar with The Wizard of Oz.

      I’m inclined to say that Maleficent would not be as interesting if we weren’t familiar with Sleeping Beauty. I think for Maleficent to catch our interest we first have to have seen the story from the other point of view, to give us a frame of reference.

      Thanks for the awesome question! You gave me a lot to think about, especially once I finally see the film in the theater. What do you think?

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  2. Pingback: Maleficent: Revenge Of The Trailer | The L. Palmer Chronicles

  3. The dragon is indeed awesome, and I agree dragons are very difficult to get right on film (although I’ll be measuring him against the absolute highest quality dragon ever on screen: Peter Jackson’s Smaug 😉

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    • I’m going to go ahead and disagree with you about Smaug. As great a creation as he was, my pick for the highest quality dragon will always be Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer. Regardless, I’m excited to see what Maleficent does with its dragon, especially considering the inevitable comparisons to the spectacular animated Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.

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  4. Pingback: Trailer Thursday: Cinderella | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

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