Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Sleeping Beauty

Film #241


A snubbed malevolent fairy casts a curse on a princess that only a prince can break, with the help of three good fairies.

Year 1, Day 243

BEFORE: And just like that, February has come to a close. With it comes the beginning of spring break, and the end of the animation chain. Wrapping things up is yet another old Disney film Sleeping Beauty, also directed by the prolific Clyde Geronimi. Geronimi has had a mixed track record with animated films in this chain scoring two, three, and four stars. Sleeping Beauty is among the films I have never seen and I’m curious to see how it will rank against the others.

A few bits of business. I haven’t solidified my upcoming films for March yet but the plan is to use it as a catch-up/leftover month to watch a bunch of films that have been previously scheduled in the marathon but have been bumped around due to various reasons. The other bit of business is my revisiting of Mulan. In case you missed it, I decided that, after getting an extraordinary amount of feedback (the most ever for a review of mine yet), I should take another look at my thoughts and see whether or not it was a fair assessment. This should be hitting sometime within the next week so be on the lookout for that.

But for now, time for Sleeping Beauty.

AFTER: Now here’s something you don’t see often. If you’ve followed my marathon since it’s inception you’ll know that out of the 240 films I’ve watched, only one has received a one star review. Now that list grows to two and by now you’re probably asking, why is Sleeping Beauty so deserving of this honor? I’ll explain.

Yesterday I mentioned Cinderella was very much like a fairy tale and even started as an entrance into a book with the caption “Once upon a time.” The same is true with Sleeping Beauty but the reason why this film is so much worse is two-fold: the characters are dull and the premise is just stupid.

Both main characters, Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip are both hardly developed and you barely get to know who these characters are. You learn enough to understand the love between them, but you don’t know them well enough to accept their love. Part of this is due to the fact that they are hardly on screen (and when they are Aurora spends a lot of time sleeping and Phillip is fighting the wicked fairy Maleficent). The other part is because when they are on screen doing something of import, they’re completely two-dimensional: no feelings or emotions, just conduits for the simple dialogue written by the screenwriters. Even the secondary characters (where films like Cinderella and The Little Mermaid make up for the main characters) are horrible. The secondary characters are basically the three good fairies that watch over Aurora and while they have a bit of camaraderie, it’s only sporadic at best and it’s nothing to make up for the downfalls of the others. The only character with a glimmer of hope for the film is Maleficent but even she isn’t strong, but that reason leads into…

…the stupid premise. The entire film is about Aurora, a Princess who Maleficent curses to death before the age of 16 by? That’s right, touching a spinning wheel. What!?! Cursing someone makes sense, having the consequence be death is also fairly standard, but by touching a spinning wheel. Not only does it not make sense but it also doesn’t provide a gripping story you want to pay attention to. There’s no suspense, and when you don’t care about the characters (due to their poor development) it makes things that would otherwise provide at least a morsel of entertainment (like the action sequence at the end) seem boring. A lot of praise is heaped on the film for the Maleficent being a great villain, one of Disney’s best it’s said. Yes, she is very evil and I would agree she’s one of the darker villains, but there was just too much that left me feeling as if every one of her actions were scripted. How is it she can curse Aurora to death but needs to use animals and servants to try and find her (rather than magic)? Apparently she can travel faster, almost teleportation, from place to place but only does so at the end of the film after Prince Phillip has escaped another of her obstacles. Then she can transform into a dragon and cast all these spells to stop Phillip. It’s just too coincidental and makes a story that’s already hard to accept and get into even more distant.

Sleeping Beauty is easily the worst film of this animation chain. I was bored out of my mind and there was nothing I could connect with an invest in for the film. The characters were all two-dimensional and the story just left me puzzled as how little sense it made (as in why they would tell this story, not comprehension wise). The reason why this earns the rare one-star is because there are no redeeming qualities. It’s not even a bad film you can use as an educational experience. When you’re this bored it’s hard to pay attention and the film drags on forever. That’s never a good sign for a film, especially when the runtime is only 75 minutes. If you’re looking for an animated film, choose something else.

RATING: 1 out of 5