7:00 PM, 26th July, 2014
Everyone knows that a good story needs a good hero – but a good villain is just as important. Studios like Dreamworks and now Disney seem to have realised that too; Maleficent, the story of Sleeping Beauty as told from the villain’s point of view, is the latest instalment in a string of movies about bad guys who aren’t as evil as they seem.
Here, Maleficent is revealed to be a fairy who lives in the magical Moors, who falls for a boy with ambitions to one day become king of the human realm. When he betrays Maleficent to secure his dream, she takes revenge on him by placing an irrevocable curse on his newborn daughter Aurora, so that she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel by her 16th birthday and fall into an eternal sleep. As the child grows, however, Maleficent begins to realise that Aurora may in fact hold the key to peace in the land, and takes steps to change both worlds forever.
The strongest part of this particular take on the fairy tale is a powerful and moving performance from Jolie as the titular character, while the rest of the movie suffers from rushed pacing and an uneven tone. Nevertheless, it’s a clever and ambitious idea and well worth watching. And, like Frozen, it contains a twist on the notion of ‘true love’ which, after decades of sanitised Disney ‘love at first sight’, is very welcome indeed.
8:47 PM, 26th July, 2014
Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…
Beauty and the Beast makes its triumphant return to the Film Group for the first time in over 20 years. In addition to spawning two sequels, a TV series, a Broadway musical, numerous re-releases and countless forms of merchandise, Disney’s crowning achievement also holds the notable distinction of being the first animated film ever to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. And perhaps the best part is that it still continues to enchant audiences both young and old even today.
For the benefit of the two of you who somehow haven’t seen this (P.S. – Congratulations on awakening from your comas), the film follows a young woman by the name of Belle (voiced pitch-perfectly by O’Hara) who is struggling to fit in with the residents of the small French town she lives in. When her eccentric inventor father goes missing, she tracks him down to a castle owned by a fearsome beast and agrees to take her father’s place as his prisoner so that he may go free. The Beast (voiced by Benson), a formerly-human prince who was transformed into a monster as punishment, soon finds that Belle brings out the best in him, and may be the key to breaking his curse.
Blending stunning, lovingly hand-drawn animation with then-revolutionary CGI, unforgettable musical numbers, endearing characters and a sweepingly romantic storyline, Beauty and the Beast is a timeless classic and one of the greatest films – animated or otherwise – ever made.