How will Maleficent stack up to Sleeping Beauty?

May 29, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Image: WENN

Angelina Jolie brings Disney's most popular villain to the big screen, but will old-school Sleeping Beauty fans enjoy the new twist?

The story of Sleeping Beauty has been around forever, immortalized by Mother Goose and the Brothers Grimm. Most people don't know that Maleficent, the evil witch who curses a kingdom, wasn't born until 1959 under the watchful eye of Walt Disney.

Since her creation, she's been the cartoon genius's all-time most popular villain. In fact, she was Angelina Jolie's favorite: "I was afraid of her and I loved her." Audiences feel the same way as hubbub over the Maleficent release comes to a head this Friday.

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As a kid, Sleeping Beauty was my favorite Disney film. Still is, which is why I'm curious — and a bit nervous — to see what Disney does in Maleficent's live-action debut. After a quick study of the cartoon, I've come up with six things that the remake must include… or they will have to face the dire consequences.

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1. The song

No spoilers here. Thanks to the sinister stylings of Lana Del Rey, the famed romance ballad, "Once Upon a Dream," has already been released — and I get shivers every time I hear it.


2. The hot prince

Prince Phillip is my preferred Disney prince. He's got a good sense of humor, he looks good in a cape and, for a cartoon, he's totally hot. I'm not sure how much of a role the sexy prince will have in Maleficent, but they did cast young hottie, Brenton Thwaites, in the role. At least they got the casting right. Now, he better wear a cape.

Brenton Thwaites as Prince Phillip in Maleficent.

Photo credit: Disney

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3. The raven

In the cartoon Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent has an evil sidekick in her black raven buddy. She sends her raven off to spy on people, and thanks to his spying, all hell breaks loose. In Maleficent, the raven is more than a bird. From what I can tell, he's some kind of shape-shifter named Diaval. The special effects of him coming and going look pretty sweet, so I'm glad the raven was not forgotten — but I wonder what the consequences of his actions might be?

Angelina Jolie and Sam Riley.

Photo credit: Disney

4. The evil laugh

Maleficent has the best laugh ever. It's the kind of laugh little children hear in their nightmares and quake. Eleanor Audley did the original voice-over for the nasty witch in 1959. She blazed a trail for Angelina, so let's hope she can stack up to that amazing voice. Really, I have a lot of expectations when it comes to Maleficent's voice, so here's hoping Angie nails it. If she doesn't, the character will be greatly dwindled.

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5. The creep factor

For a little kids' movie, Sleeping Beauty was super creepy. You've got an angry witch with a castle full of goblins. There's a curse. There's a big flippin' needle — and nobody likes needles. The spindle scene in Sleeping Beauty is genius, what with the lighting, the music and the suspense. Some of the images from Maleficent feel too Lord of the Rings for me. I want this to be a creepy movie, not a CGI smorgasbord. I hope Disney keeps the creep factor to the max. I don't feel like this is being billed as a children's film so, hopefully, I won't be disappointed.

Elle Fanning in Maleficent.

Photo credit: Disney

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6. The dragon

(You knew this was coming.) Dragons are so hot right now! Just ask Peter Jackson. In the climactic end scenes of Sleeping Beauty, Prince Phillip must slay the dragon, who just happens to be Maleficent herself. Will Angie be morphing into a fire-breather? Gosh, I hope so! The dragon is a classic part of the Disney cannon. Literally, the knight must slay the dragon to save his princess. I know Maleficent isn't about the prince or the princess. It's about the evil witch. Still, here's hoping Angie snarls with the best of 'em. Make Smaug proud!

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