March 6, 2018
(The 2018 NC opening plays, before showing NC in his room)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. And welcome to the Disney Live-Action Remake Month.
(For the intro, we are shown the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty, then we are shown the live-action fairies from this film. A chorus is heard singing the Disney logo theme "When You Wish Upon a Star", becoming freaked out halfway when we are shown the live-action fairies. The logo "Disney Live-Action Remake Month" is shown with a half-and-half picture of the Walt Disney Pictures castle, both the original and the current)
NC: Disney likes profitable faces, doesn't it?
(Two images of Disney's Pinocchio are shown, followed by images of various Disney Channel movies, Disney direct-to-VHS/DVD sequels, the Marvel logo, a poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the 20th Century Fox logo)
NC (vo): Don't get me wrong. Some of the most timeless characters have made money for years, but they also like to focus on what's popular for the moment. Whether it be Disney Channel Original Movies, DVD sequels, or buying what you thought for a second wasn't theirs, they finally asked the question: What if they combined their timeless stories still making money with their search for fads still making money?
NC (vo): And...with less creative effort?
NC: Hey, they had to continue those timeless stories that already made the money; what if they just told them again?
(A shot of a D23 Expo event announcing several live-action Disney remakes is shown with a "Ding!" sound, before showing several posters of those movies)
NC (vo): Now we're cookin'! The Disney live-action remakes, for the most part, have turned in a huge profit, so much so that at the time this video's released, at least twelve other Disney stories are in the process of being remade. It's like Groundhog Day, except instead of you becoming a better person, the world is becoming continually worse.
NC: And one of their earliest hits was (grudgingly as he rolls his eyes) Maleficent.
(The film's title is shown, before showing various clips)
NC (vo): Starring Angelina Jolie, this was supposed to do the villain of Sleeping Beauty what Wicked did for the villain of The Wizard of Oz.
NC: Hey, Disney is already ripping itself off enough; (The posters for the original Sleeping Beauty and Wicked are shown) why not steal from other sources?
NC (vo): The idea of telling a fairy tale from a different point of view is nothing different, but the advertising for this movie made it look like you were going to be rooting for the bad guy, like, "Oh, it feels so good to be so bad! Let's root for that antihero!" And seeing how Maleficent is easily one of Disney's best villains, this could kind of be cool. What we got is...
(We are shown a scene of the three fairies engaging in a petty fight with each other)
NC: ...not cool.
NC (vo): Is it possible, though, that just like the lead, this is all a misunderstanding, and I should look closer to find something of worth?
NC: Do all crows secretly have a cool, styling, emo stuffing inside of them?
(The character of Divial is shown, with an audio clip of Mr. Freeze from Batman & Robin)
Mr. Freeze: Stay cool, bird-boy!
NC: Let's take a look at Maleficent.
(We see the beginning of the movie with the female narrator speaking)
Narrator: Let us tell an old story anew, and we will see how well you know it.
NC: Well, if you're telling it anew, we can't know it. The first line is literally a lie!
(The titular character is shown as a young fairy living in the Moors, a magical forest realm bordering a human kingdom)
NC (vo): So, there's a kingdom of people and a kingdom of creatures that Na'vi refused to eat, as a young Maleficent, shown here as taxidermy owl wings on an American Girl doll, is one of the kindest and gentlest of all fairies. I… (A text is displayed on screen: "Maleficent - a highfalutin adjective meaning 'causing harm'") guess they regret calling her "Maleficent" then.
(Three fairies, Knotgrass, Thistlewit and Flittle, fly over to Maleficent to say the bad news)
Knotgrass: The border guards have disco...
Flittle: Why do you get to tell her? I want to tell her!
Knotgrass: Border guards have...
Flittle: No, you told last time, so I should tell this time, and Thistlewit next time.
Flittle: Thank you.
NC: (arms crossed, fake smiling) I hope you're laughing your ass off at this, because there's 20 minutes of this joy sprinkled all throughout the film.
Flittle: The border gua...
Thistlewit: The border guards have found a human thief at the pool of jewels. (Knotgrass and Flittle look at her) I'm sorry.
NC: For what? Delivering a bad punchline...
NC (vo): ...or looking like a CGI Barbie doll's Barbie dolls?
NC: Christ, are those ugly!
(Maleficent discovers a human peasant boy named Stefan and falls in love with him)
NC (vo): They find a farm boy named Stefan, who stole a jewel from them, but Maleficent forces him to give it back. She walks him back to his kingdom where he reveals his parents are dead.
Young Stefan: My parents are dead.
Young Maleficent: Mine, too.
NC: (as young Maleficent) My horns ripped up my mother's insides at birth, and then I head-butted my father on the way out.
NC (vo): They agree to form a friendship over the years and even end up loving each other.
(A grown-up Maleficent, now the protector of the Moors, is shown)
NC (vo): She grows up into Angelina Jolie...a fitting choice, as she's a mix-up of beautiful and...
(The clip from Fargo (1996) is shown above)
Mr. Mohra: ...kind of funny-lookin'.
(The grown-up Stefan is shown helping King Henry in the upcoming conquer of the Moors)
NC (vo): But, as you'll see, the writing does little to keep her an interesting character. For several years pass, and Stefan was away taking asshole lessons so he could help the King destroy the fairies, because...
NC: What was the reason again?
King Henry: Crush them! (The army cheers)
NC: Makes sense.
NC (vo): Maleficent is the protector of her kingdom with her Treebeard army, and heads up, nothing in the film is cooler than this scene.
(The Moors' tree warriors charge at the kingdom army and defeat them pretty easily. Thus, the human army is forced to retreat)
NC: Well, that was a great climax in the first 15 minutes of the film! Set the rest of the flick to... (He moves his hand offscreen to turn the switch, and we're shown the caption...) "eh-heyh".
(Mortally wounded by Maleficent at the battle, King Henry is shown at his deathbed)
NC (vo): Stefan, the crown's personal Scottish Michael Bay, hears the King say whoever kills Maleficent will become the future ruler of the land. Hey, how is the old M gal, anyway?
(Stefan visits Maleficent and drugs her with a sleep potion)
(Then, he prepares to stab her in the heart, but cannot bring himself to do it, so he instead cuts her wings off with iron, which is lethal to fairies)
NC (vo): He finds he can't actually kill her, but he decides to cut off her wings as proof.
(Maleficent wakes up the next morning and discovers her wings are gone)
NC (vo): Good thing Maleficent's a heavy sleeper, because she didn't even notice, and she wakes up defeathered.
(Maleficent lets out a scream of pain, anger and despair)
NC: (as Maleficent, tearfully) I never got to find out how they tasted!
(Stefan presents Maleficent's wings to King Henry)
NC (vo): Stefan drops off the wings, which...equals a body, I guess, and is appointed King.
(Devastated by Stefan's betrayal, Maleficent returns to the Moors)
NC (vo): Maleficent says, "If one character can spontaneously turn into a dick, so can I", and she turns herself evil. Her first order of evil business?
(She captures a crow in the field and turns it into a male human)
NC (vo): Turn a random crow into a boy!
(NC is flummoxed)
NC: ...You monster!
Maleficent: I need you to be my wings. What do I call you?
Diaval: Diaval. (He pronounces the name with a silent 'l')
NC: (confused) What do they call you?
NC: It's not a name; that's the sound that a goose makes when it farts.
(Maleficent and Diaval (which now can also go back to being a crow) transform the Moors into a dark kingdom...but it's just the skies covering in dark clouds)
NC (vo): So Maleficent and "Bayabah" decide to turn their kingdom into a den of evil...or just make things dark, but...d'ooh, it looks so evil...and hatch the diabolical plan of...sitting around and doing nothing for years.
NC: Does your evil know no...starting point?!
(Stefan, now the King, and his wife, Queen Leila, are shown hosting a christening for their newborn daughter, Aurora. The three fairies of the Moors arrive and gather over Aurora's cradle to give her the magical gifts for life)
NC (vo): Stefan gets himself a queen, who gives birth to a daughter named Aurora. And three of the other kingdom's most annoying fairies come to foster peace.
Knotgrass: I wish for you the gift of beauty. (She blows the rose petals that float above Aurora)
Flittle: My wish is that you will never be blue, only happy, all the days of your life. (As she says that, she sends the blue butterflies flying around Aurora)
NC: (as Flittle) May seeing grief and sorrow in other people confuse you so you cannot comfort them.
(Before Thistlewit can give her gift to Aurora, Maleficent arrives on the christening with Diaval as crow, uninvited)
NC (vo): Before the last fairy can give her present, though...and by the way, yes, we never figure out what it was going to be...Maleficent steps in to constantly show off that she has two rows of teeth.
(Maleficent walks up to Aurora's cradle)
Knotgrass: Stay away from the Princess!
Flittle: Yes, stay away!
(Maleficent waves her hand and sends the fairies flying right into the trunk nearby, which closes on them)
NC: (as Maleficent) I'll call you when a '90s rainforest needs patronizing.
(Maleficent begins to cast her spell on Aurora as green flames surround her)
Maleficent: Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel...
NC: (shocked) OH, MY... Actually, that's not too bad.
Maleficent: ...and fall into a sleep-like death!
NC: Oh. That's much worse. (Beat) Actually, why don't you just make it death? Why a...deep sleep? That's like death. Why don't you just make it death? Wouldn't that be a lot simpl-
NC: (pulling the "all right, all right" gesture with his hands) Okay, your curse.
NC (vo): And because this movie's tone also seems to be on a spinning wheel, listen to the music they play over this scene.
(As Stefan begs Maleficent not to curse Aurora, the African drums play in the background)
Maleficent: I like you begging. (Pause) Do it again.
NC: (in a deep, Barry White-esque voice) Ohh, yeah. She's totally cursing that baby to feel the rhythm of a sweetie. Oh, yeah.
Stefan: I beg you.
Maleficent: All right. The princess can be woken from her death sleep, but only by true love's kiss. (The whisper is heard: "True love's kiss...")
NC: (pounds on the table) NO! What are the chances of a beautiful girl who's happy 24/7 will find someone to love her?! YOU WEIRDLY NOT-PRACTICAL MONSTER!!
NC (vo): So, yes, if the fairies weren't pointless enough in this, they don't even offset Maleficent's magic with "true love's kiss or sleep instead of death" edition. (The clip from the original movie, showing Merryweather making Maleficent's death curse into a sleep, is briefly shown) Yeah, don't you remember? That was the last gift that the fairy was supposed to give, but now there's just no gift at all! It's just Maleficent's own idiotic curse that was a lot simpler in the original!
(The clip from the 1959 movie of Maleficent casting her spell on Aurora is shown)
Maleficent: On her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger...and DIE!
NC: (as Maleficent, takes out some sheets of paper) Oh, wait, wait, wait. There's also, like, five loopholes I myself wanted to put it. I want to be a fair Mistress of Evil.
(Fearing for his daughter's safety, Stefan sends Aurora to live with three fairies outside of his kingdom)
NC (vo): To make things even dumber, it's the King's idea to give his daughter to the fairies to raise her for 16 years.
NC (vo): They in no way show they have an understanding of Maleficent's magic, and they act like bumbling dumbasses! Look at their faces! They can barely even carry this kid! One song of "Rock-a-Bye Baby" can turn into... (A picture of a rock is shown) Rock! (Then, we're shown the photo of a giant rock crushing a car) A-bye, baby!
NC: (points to head) Smart!
(King Stefan sends his armies to find and kill Maleficent, but she surrounds the Moors with an impenetrable wall of thorns)
NC (vo): So Maleficent builds a wall around her kingdom. Don't worry, the humans will pay for it.
Narrator: And she reveled in the sorrow that her curse had brought.
NC: (as the narrator) And the millions of ways it can be overturned. Like, I haven't done the math, but I'm pretty sure it's in the middles.
(Three fairies find an abandoned house in the forest and decide to settle there, but not before transforming into humans)
NC (vo): The fairies go to a cottage, where they do eventually make themselves bigger.
NC: (groans) How fake. Can we go back to the realistic-looking CGI bodies?
(The fairies go inside the cottage, leaving baby Aurora alone. Maleficent and Diaval find her)
NC (vo): And, as expected, they turn out to be pretty shitty parents. Right down to leaving her outside to be spotted and Maleficent finding them literally before they could even move in!
NC: Oh. (slams the table) There goes all that suspense!
(We're then shown Aurora in her pre-teen age. While Knotgrass, Thistlewit, and Flittle are having a petty fight, Aurora chases a butterfly and almost falls off a cliff)
NC: In fact, Maleficent saves Aurora...
(As shown, Maleficent prevents Aurora from falling by growing tree branches on the cliff and raising her back to the ground)
NC (vo): ...from their benign child-slaughtering ways and even ends up raising her more than the fairies do! I'm not even joking! That's what happens over all these years!
NC: Look, I'm open to a different interpretation, but the fairies in the original were clumsy, but loving...
(Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, as shown in the 1959 animated film, are shown. After that, various clips of Knotgrass, Thistlewit, and Flittle not paying attention to Aurora in different ways are followed)
NC (vo): ...and caring, and charming! These three literally let the baby almost die on several occasions and sleep through half of it and fight through the other half! They're despicably unlikeable; in fact, they're easier to hate than the character you're supposed to hate!
NC: Actually, yeah, let's talk about her for a bit.
(The montage of Maleficent making contact with little Aurora and disturbing the fairies is shown)
NC (vo): It's clear what Disney is trying to do. They're trying to go the Wicked route of taking a famous villain with no sympathy and making her a misunderstood hero.
NC: But here's the thing. The original Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz is a thug!
(The clips of the Wicked Witch of the West, as shown in The Wizard of Oz, are played, before showing various stills from the Wicked musical, focusing on the younger Wicked Which)
NC (vo): She's a simpleton with a low vocabulary who uses blunt force to get whatever she wants. There's supposed to be no charm to her. So in Wicked, it's compelling when you see her as the opposite: a smart, fragile, charismatic, yet misunderstood outcast who got blamed for everything because she was different and didn't always know how to fight back. You could easily see how this world would make up a story about her being this villain.
NC: With Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is already...
(Maleficent is shown in the clips from the 1959 movie)
NC (vo): ...a charming, charismatic and sophisticated villain. She has her outbursts, of course, but there's always a charm and grace to whatever she does. You love how smart, elegant and diabolical she can be.
NC: So to make this work, you would have to do the opposite, and A: I'm not sure that's what this movie does, and B: If it does, it doesn't do it well.
(Back to Maleficent in the 2014 version)
NC (vo): She's not simple enough to have a charming naivete, but she's also not intelligent enough to be diabolical or menacing. Her actions half the time are pulling pranks on the fairies or trying to scare the baby with faces. And when it doesn't work, she says...
Maleficent: (to Aurora, after failing to scare her) I hate you.
NC (vo): ...like a fifth grader. So on no level does this come together. It can't go all the way with what it originally was, but it can't go all the way with the opposite either.
(The clip of Maleficent at Aurora's christening is shown)
NC (vo): She's the badass Mistress of All E- (We cut to little Aurora hugging Maleficent) Oh, she looks so cute when a kid hugs her! (Maleficent is shown casting a dark spell on the Moors) I'm so behind her being a badass villain (Cut to Aurora touching Maleficent's horns, and NC baby-talks) except when they're trying to make her a cute, awkward babysitter! Ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo!
NC: Mistress of All Evil? How about...
NC: (as the posters for all the Home Alone movies are shown) Though that would be a welcome gift.
(We go to a commercial. After we return, we're shown Aurora, who has turned fifteen, encountering Maleficent)
NC (vo): So, as the years pass, Aurora, now played by Elle Fanning, grows older, and, wouldn't you know it, Maleficent and her grow a close friendship. Again, this film really gives us exactly what we want from a Maleficent movie.
Aurora: I know who you are.
Maleficent: Do you?
Aurora: You're my fairy godmother.
(Maleficent and Aurora are shown peacefully walking around the Moors every night)
NC (vo): So she visits Maleficent every night, and they just hang out, throw mud at each other, have girl talk, express their feelings...again, exactly what you would want from a Maleficent movie!
NC: Did I mention in the upcoming Frollo film that him and Quasimodo go bowling? (A picture of two bowling players with Quasimodo and Frollo's heads Photoshopped over them is shown) It's very sweet and totally understands the character.
(Maleficent tries desperately to undo the curse when Aurora is sleeping at fairies' cottage, but is unsuccessful, as the curse proves to be unbreakable by any means other than true love's kiss)
NC (vo): In fact, she gets along so well with Aurora that she even tries lifting the curse, but she finds she can't. Yeah, apparently, she doesn't know what the hell her powers can do.
(Cut to Maleficent and Aurora talking in the morning)
Maleficent: There is an evil in this world.
Aurora: I can take care of myself.
NC: (as Aurora) I frolicked and smiled like nobody's business. I'm very self-reliant!
(In the forest, Aurora meets Prince Philip, and the two are attracted to each other)
NC (vo): Lucky-lucky, though, a young prince named Philip is wandering through the forest and comes across Aurora. It's love at first...
Philip: Goodbye. (He rides away)
NC (vo): ...small talk. Hey, it's still more dialogue than they had in the original film. Thus, Maleficent and "Bayabah" discuss if the prince can break the spell.
Diaval: True love's kiss, remember? It can break the spell.
Maleficent: True love's kiss? I cursed her that way because there is no such thing.
NC: (as Maleficent) It's a very abstract, open to interpretation, spell.
(Aurora returns to the cottage, and the fairies present her the cake made for her sixteenth birthday)
NC (vo): So on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Aurora tells the fairies that she's leaving them...
(Upon hearing the aforementioned statement from Aurora, Knotgrass drops the cake on the floor)
NC: Way to add to the mood.
NC (vo): ..and they accidentally blurt out who she really is.
Knotgrass: We are taking you back to your father with... (realizes what she just said)
Aurora: You told me my parents were dead.
NC: (as Aurora) It's almost like you're awful, awful, awful, awful, awful...awful people!
(Aurora runs back to Maleficent)
NC (vo): Aurora clarifies this with her real parent, Maleficent...
NC: Did you hear how stupid that sounded? That's the story!
NC (vo): ...as she also discovers that Maleficent is the one who cursed her.
Aurora: (in tears) Don't touch me! You're the evil that's in the world.
NC: No, actually, (The animated Maleficent is shown) that's the good version, but this one is, at least...dumb.
(Aurora returns to Stefan's kingdom and reunites with him)
NC (vo): She makes her way to her real father, who has slowly been growing insane over the years, resulting in his voice sounding even sillier than it did before.
Stefan: (to Aurora, speaking in a high, raspy voice) You look just like your mother. I told those three idiots! They brought you back a day too soon. (to his guards) Lock her up in her room.
NC: Did they replace him with a shrinking Scrooge McDuck? How am I supposed to be intimidated by that voice?!
(Maleficent, intent on saving Aurora, abducts Phillip and rides to Stefan's castle on Diaval, transformed into a horse. Meanwhile, the power of Maleficent's curse draws Aurora to the dungeon, where a spinning wheel magically reassembles itself. She pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep, fulfilling the curse. The fairies and King Stefan mourn her)
NC (vo): Maleficent thinks the prince's kiss might work, so she knocks him out and tries taking him to the palace where Aurora is. She (Aurora), of course, pricks her finger and goes into a deep sleep, throwing her father's voice into a gargling rage.
Stefan: Look at her. Look at what you've done.
Knotgrass: She's only sleeping.
NC: Oh, my God, have they invented pesticide yet? Where's your bedside manners?!
Stefan: "She's only sleeping". She's only sleeping FOREVER!
NC: (massages his forehead) David Tennant sucking helium balloons would sound more intimidating than this guy!
(Phillip arrives, but his kiss fails to awaken Aurora. At her bedside, Maleficent apologizes to Aurora)
NC (vo): The prince tries kissing her, but it doesn't work, so Maleficent goes in, and...
NC: ...Don't get too excited.
(Maleficent kisses Aurora's forehead. Aurora awakens, as Maleficent's motherly feelings towards her count as true love)
NC (vo): It's the Frozen logic: the love for a family member over a romantic love. And since the spell already has enough fine print, it accounts. However, the crazy old white dude (Stefan) reveals he's the villain and not the scary-looking green lady...
NC: Because, again, if we're not gonna tell this story, (The poster for the animated movie is shown) we might as well tell this one. (The poster for Wicked appears)
(As Maleficent and Aurora attempt to leave, they are ambushed by Stefan and his guards, with an iron net dropping on her. Maleficent sticks her hand out of the net and transforms Diaval into a dragon, and he battles Stefan's guards)
NC (vo): ...and the guards entrap her. But she turns "Bayabah" into a dragon... (Beat) I...feel like there's several instances where that could have come in handy...
(Cut to an earlier scene of Maleficent transforming Diaval into a human for the first time)
Maleficent: I need you to be my wings.
NC (vo): Turn yourself into something with wings... (As the picture of Maleficent's dragon form from the 1959 movie is shown, NC gets angry) Like in the original!
(Before Stefan can deliver a killing blow, Aurora finds Maleficent's wings and releases them. They fly to Maleficent and reattach themselves)
NC (vo): ...and Aurora breaks open Maleficent's wings that fly directly to her. (speaks in a "joyful tone") Yay! A Sleeping Beauty teamed up with Maleficent to fight an old, crazy guy!
NC: Yeah, sorry. No part of this is cooler than this. (A shot of Prince Philip battling the dragon Maleficent from the animated film is shown)
(Stefan and Maleficent both plummet from the tower. Maleficent breaks away, and Stefan falls to his death)
NC (vo): There's not even an acknowledgment to their past relationship or the years of love that they shared. She just tosses him over, and...it's done. You kind of even forgot they were in love, it's such a meaningless connection they have.
(The poster for the first Twilight movie is briefly shown with the caption "Still a better love story than Twilight". The next day, Maleficent returns the Moors to its former glory, and Aurora is crowned queen to unify the two kingdoms)
NC (vo): But, at least, a scene later, it's revealed that Aurora is now queen of both kingdoms. All those years of giggling and twirling in her dress will no doubt lead to a strong government.
(The Moorland creatures cheer for Aurora)
Narrator: So you see, the story is not quite as you were told.
NC: Even though Disney told me the first version I ever heard... And I liked it a lot better!
Narrator: And I should know, for I was the one they called (The camera focuses on Aurora) Sleeping Beauty.
NC: (as the narrator) I've been smoking a lot. That's why my pitch is a little off.
Narrator: In the end, my kingdom was united not by a hero or a villain, but by one who was both hero and villain.
NC (vo): So that way, nobody is happy. Yaaaaay...
(Maleficent and Diaval fly away to the clouds. The movie ends)
NC: (sighs) So that is one of the greatest Disney villains of all time. (Beat) Doesn't it show?
(The movie's clips are shown for the last time as NC says his closing thoughts)
NC (vo): I'll admit, it does look very nice. Even though the effects can be very fake, it's still shot quite beautifully and gives us some nice visual landscapes. But this movie is an insult to one of Disney's greatest characters. We don't want to see Maleficent as a hero, we love her fine as a villain! If you want to make her more complex, fine, but don't tell us deep down, she's a good person! That's not what we're looking for. Some villains are so good, we enjoy hating them, like the Joker, or Freddy Krueger, or any number of the Disney baddies. Trying to be bad and good ruins what we appreciate about this kind of character to begin with, that she did go all the way. There's definitely great villains that can explore the good and the bad, but this shouldn't be one of them. This movie needed to pick a side, a tone, and an idea to stick with. Instead, it just sucks out the evil fun that made our happily ever after all the more happier. And it's a spell I'm not gonna fall for.
NC: And I'll tell you what, I'm avoiding the movies of this writer. I mean, it's not like this person wrote any other live-action Disney fil- It's the next one, isn't it?
NC (vo): DAMMIT!
(And we go to the credits)
Channel Awesome tagline - Diaval: Diaval.