There have been plenty of reboots released in theaters since 2010, ranging from comic book franchise relaunches to modernized takes on famous titles released in decades past (see: RoboCop, Evil Dead, etc.) and, of course, modern retellings of classic fairy tales. However, following the middling response to films like Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Jack the Giant Slayer, news of yet another modernized rendition of a well-known fairy tale being on the horizon has started to prompt as much trepidation as it does excitement.
For better or worse, we’ll have another one to add to that pile this May, in the shape of Maleficent: Disney’s upcoming re-imagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale – which, to no small degree, takes its lead from the Mouse House’s 1959 animated version of the story. That’s something that most of the previously-released trailers for the film have directly called attention to, no less.
This version of the famous tale reveals the backstory for the eponymous dark fairy (played by Angelina Jolie), prior to her cursing the Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and enter a death-like eternal sleep – thus setting the stage for a striking departure from tradition, with regard to what usually happens in the story after that.
The new Maleficent featurette (see above) includes previously-unseen footage, as well as interviews with the film’s cast and crew discussing how the project is, as screenwriter Linda Woolverton puts it, a “re-invention” of Sleeping Beauty, rather than a conventional retelling. It’s a familiar position for Woolverton to be in, as her script for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was not at all a standard recycling of the Lewis Carroll story. (It’s essentially a sequel to the version of the Alice story that most people are familiar with.)
Maleficent certainly looks beautiful, in no small part thanks to director Robert Stromberg (the production designer on Alice and Oz the Great and Powerful), while the story by Woolverton now seems more interesting than it did upon first inspection. Disney’s coming off a massive hit with Frozen, which also painted a famous fairy tale villain (the Snow Queen) in a more sympathetic light – will the studio go two-for-two?
Maleficent opens in U.S. theaters on May 30th, 2014.