Story

Maleficent is a fantasy adventure movie that re-imagines the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty and tells the story of bad fairy Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). At the beginning of the story, she is a young fairy who believes in love, peace and compassion. Living in the Moors, a magical realm with a neighbouring human kingdom, Maleficent meets and falls in love with a young man named Stefan (Sharlto Copley). Over the years, his human desire for power and greed take hold and the two lose contact.

The magic and human realms are soon at war, with the human king wanting to rid his world of the fantastical creatures that hold more power and strength than he and his army do. Stefan is promised that he will become king. He lures Maleficent into a trap, drugs her and cuts off her wings. She can no longer fly but is still magically very powerful.

Maleficent is blind with rage. After enlisting the help of Diaval (Sam Riley), a crow she turns into a man, she takes over the magical realm with her dark and evil magic. When King Stefan has a child, Maleficent sees her opportunity to take revenge. She puts a curse on the child – although the princess shall grow in beauty and grace, before the sun sets on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel spindle and fall into a sleep from which she can only ever be awoken by true love’s kiss.

The king orders that his daughter Aurora be taken away and raised in the woods by three fairies. This is to keep her safe from any spinning wheels that might have escaped the purge he ordered for the kingdom. As Aurora grows up, Maleficent finds herself looking after the girl from a distance and protecting her so that she survives to her 16th birthday. In fact, she becomes very fond of the girl and seeks to undo her curse.

Themes

Love and relationships; good and evil; fairy tales; war; power and revenge

Violence

Maleficent has substantial violence. For example:

  • There are several intense battle scenes, such as a battle between knights and fantasy tree people who climb out of the ground. The tree people are gigantic, with mouths that open and contain large teeth. They easily throw the knights around. Before the battle, the king asks his knights to ‘bring me her head’ as he stands opposite Maleficent.
  • Knights fight a dragon. The dragon sprays fire everywhere and a room catches alight, injuring many of the knights.
  • Maleficent’s wings are severed. Although the scene doesn’t show them being cut away, it does show the stumps where they were and some traces of blood. She has a very strong and upsetting reaction when she realises what has happened.
  • After Maleficent builds a wall of living vines, King Stefan sends troops to set it on fire. The vines come to life and fight the men.
  • The fairy characters are frequently harmed by the touch of iron on their skin. It leaves a burn, although it quickly fades.
  • When Maleficent is in the King’s castle during the final battle, King Stefan wears iron armour and throws iron chains at her. Once her wings are returned, she flies Stefan away to the top of a rooftop and punches him. She injures many of the knights along the way by running into them with her large wings.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Maleficent has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • The movie features dark magic throughout.
  • A huge forest of thorns comes to life, as does the wall of vines that Maleficent creates.
  • Some of the creatures are friendly, but look quite frightening. They have vines and shrubs growing off them, or stand very tall and hold weapons.
  • After Maleficent discovers that Stefan took her wings so that he would be king, she becomes angry and glows green. Lightning sparks begin to fly off her.
  • Maleficent turns Diaval into a very large and dog-like creature, with sharp teeth and a vicious growl to scare the knights away from the wall. She then raises the knights off the ground using her own powers, throws them around and bashes them into one another. 

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Maleficent has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Maleficent and Stefan talk about how their parents have died, but the deaths aren’t shown.
  • Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by Maleficent putting a curse on Aurora. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes and themes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

None of concern 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Maleficent shows limited use of substances. For example, Maleficent is tricked into drinking a sleeping potion, after which her wings are cut off. 

Nudity and sexual activity

Maleficent shows some mild sexual activity when Maleficent and Stefan kiss. Aurora and a prince also kiss. 

Product placement

There is no product placement of concern in Maleficent, but there is associated merchandise aimed at children. 

Coarse language

None of concern 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Maleficent is a movie about how complex good and evil can be.

It shows that good people can often follow dark paths because of trauma beyond their control. It highlights the importance of forgiveness, the beauty of friendship and relationships, and the struggle people might have to be decent in a troubled world.

The movie’s M rating is appropriate, because it is a dark and adult retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. Its violent and disturbing scenes and themes make it unsuitable for children under 13 years.

The story of the troubled Maleficent raises several issues you could talk about with teenagers, but we strongly recommend parental guidance for younger teenagers who are allowed to see the movie.