Posts Tagged ‘ movie review ’

Is Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent Too Scary for Kids?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Maleficent-Angelina-JolieBy Chelsea P. Gladden, BreezyMama.com

When it comes to the live action Maleficent, Disney is pulling out all the marketing stops. My kids and I will pause from fast forwarding through commercials on TV to watch the preview– every time it airs. And that has been a lot!

When it was time to actually see the film starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, my 10 year old and I were beside ourselves with excitement.  So did it live up to all the non-stop hype?

The short answer is: Stop reading this now and head to a theater near you.

My daughter and I absolutely loved it. The film is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale “The Sleeping Beauty,” and the later Disney animated classic Sleeping Beauty, though this time from the perspective of the evil queen Maleficent, played by Jolie.

I’m a little surprised that it scored a PG rating as I felt it might be a bit more on the PG-13 side due to some violent scenes. Though my daughter was fine throughout, we did cuddle up during some very scary moments watching one of the greatest Disney villains ever.

Starting with Maleficent as a rambunctious young fairy you can’t help but root for, her innocence is ripped from her through a heart-breaking betrayal. Though she turns dark and seeks revenge on the king by cursing his first-born daughter (A.K.A. Aurora), you actually, in many ways, don’t blame her. Except for the cursing of the baby, of course!

From the start, the neighboring kingdom was bent on invading the moors she protects. With soldiers willing to stop at nothing to take her down, she relies on the nature around her, including some of the most frightening looking trees and a fire-breathing dragon made from the roots. Flying through the opposing army, she violently knocks them down one by one with her powerful wings protecting the land she grew up enchanting. The inability to bring her down further fuels the original king to encourage her demise, offering his throne to anyone who can exact revenge upon her.

My daughter and I decided those scenes and the epic-though-violent finale would be far too scary for my 5 year old.

With all the press surrounding the film, you probably know by now that Angelina Jolie’s 5-year-old daughter plays a young Princess Aurora. As Jolie previously mentioned, all other kids her age were too afraid of Jolie in costume.  It was a bit stunt casting, but when I actually saw the scene, I found it very touching. Vivienne and her mommy have a tender chemistry that ends up being quite essential to the plot.

Jolie as Maleficent is wickedly wonderful, which adds to the fun. Appearing from the shadows, her silhouette often looks just like the cartoon version, which is a treat for fans of the 1959 version.

Speaking of the original, the three fairies – Flora, Fauna and Merryweather – have always been favorites of mine, and the live-action versions definitely add some humor to the plot. Though Jolie is dark, she too has some fun playing tricks on the trio as well as some great one-liners.

Some may find one of the twists as taking too much liberty with the traditional fairy tale (hint: another twist with true love’s kiss). There are some slow-moving moments while waiting for the cursed Aurora to turn 16, prick her finger on the spindle from the spinning wheel and fall into the infamous deep sleep, but overall I found the film a lot of fun to take my own little “Beastie,” as Aurora is affectionately called, to see.

Grade on a scale of kid’s live action films: B+

Rated PG, Violent battle scenes; Slightly graphic; Scary moments; 97 minutes

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Is Disneynature’s Bears Too Wild For Your Kids?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Disneynature BEARSBy Chelsea P. Gladden, BreezyMama.com

Lately, it seems as though it’s getting harder to find a kid’s movie that isn’t too scary for my 5-year-old, yet can still keep her entertained. Frankly, I thought I’d be safe with another gem from the Disneynature series, and in general, this movie worked well for my daughter. However, Bears, like many quality wildlife shows, features the raw, often scary story of survival, which required this mama bear to be on high alert for scenes that might be too much for her litte cub.

Following a mother brown bear and her two newborn cubs for a year, Bears gives a glimpse into their lives: from waking up after hibernation in need of finding food, to avoiding avalanches, threatening rivals and other predators, such as a pesky wolf.

From the beginning, we learn that many cubs don’t survive their first year and immediately the tension is palpable. Fears that an overly hungry rival bear may try to eat them (and actually does go after them!) combined with the over-eager wolf ready to pounce the second the mom turns her back, lead to some anxiety-filled moments that had us on the edge of our seats.

To top it off, the mama bear’s conscious effort to search for food in less threatening environs nearly has her starving to death and you can actually start to see just how emaciated the nursing mother becomes.

Set in Alaska, the documentary is just as captivating a story as any animated cartoon; my daughter and I couldn’t help but root for our heroes every step of the way. Narrated by John C. Reilly, the script offers up humor and playful moments as well. Overall, it wasn’t too scary for my daughter, but the tense moments had her squirming.

At one point, the boy cub gets stuck in water as high tide comes in and my daughter reached for my hand as we hoped he wouldn’t drown. Another particular scene that my little cub found frightening was, “When the [male rival] bears fight.” Other than those moments, she seemed to handle the “scary” scenes well.

Since I saw Disneynature’s Chimpanzee (where the mother dies), I was concerned about whether the cubs would make it and they definitely tease throughout that they likely won’t! SPOILER ALERT: They do survive their first year and their mother fuels up on enough milk to feed them during hibernation to keep them alive for the next spring.

Taking a cue from my daughter’s reactions, however, Bears would be a little too intense for my 3-year-old twins, but any child over age 4 should be fine. Also, the pacing is on the slow side and toward the end, I was concerned it wasn’t going to hold my daughter’s attention for much longer as she started to get antsy in her seat. If your child has a short attention span for movies and television, this movie might not be a choice for her.

That being said, my daughter declared a few times afterward, “It was awesome!” She also added in the car ride home, “Mama, animals are great movie stars!”

Entertaining and informative, Bears demonstrates no matter what your species, a mother’s love for her family is a powerful thing — right down to the occasional bear hug.

Disneynature’s Bears opens in theaters everywhere 4/18/14

Grade on a scale of kid’s films: B

Rated G, Minor conflict among animals; Tense moments; 77 minutes

Watch a sneak peek here:

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Image: Courtesy of Disney

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