Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a dark and epic sequel.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil takes place five years after the original. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is now leading a rather quiet life amongst the Moors while Aurora (Elle Fanning) has fallen madly in love with the handsome Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). As Phillip’s feelings for Aurora continue to grow stronger, he asks for her hand in marriage. Overjoyed by the proposal, Aurora returns home to notify Maleficent of the good news.
Maleficent, however, is not happy about the engagement. She insists that “love doesn’t always end well” as Aurora pleas that she be supportive as she has already made up her mind. Maleficent agrees to join Aurora for a family dinner at the King’s castle, only to discover that Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) is using the wedding to wage war between the two kingdoms and destroy the Moors once and for all.
I was a big fan of Maleficent. I loved Jolie as the title character and have always enjoyed dark twists on classic fairytales. The original film took a lot of risks and even featured some not so family-friendly moments like the suggested rape scene where Maleficent wakes up and finds that her wings have been cut off. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has a similar tone to the first film but this time around is much more focused on the build-up to the impending war between the two kingdoms.
Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, and Linda Woolverton have written what can best be described as a family-friendly fairytale version of a two-part Game of Thrones episode. The story digs deeper into Maleficent’s past and explores where she comes from. We learn more about her people and how they were raised in exile. We are introduced to some other fairies including Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Borra (Ed Skrein) who despite having a limited amount of screen-time play a pretty significant role in how the story unfolds.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil spends the majority of its runtime focused on Aurora and Queen Ingrith. These two characters have a lot more screentime than Maleficent does. Maleficent helps set up the initial story during the first 20 minutes and then quickly gets sidelined once Queen Ingrith enters the picture. While I understand why this occurs, I feel like it takes away from the film because Ingrith isn’t as interesting of a character as Maleficent is.
That said, Maleficent pops up periodically throughout and every moment in which she appears on-screen Jolie’s performance elevates the film. She owns this role and as clichéd as it might sound, she was born to play Maleficent. Jolie captures the complexities of this character while also making her relatable and likable. This is why I say for a film with a runtime of two hours, we just don’t get enough of her. The film is called Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, so shouldn’t the main focus be on the title character rather than on Ingrith wanting to take over the kingdoms?
Please don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with Pfeiffer’s performance because we all know she’s great at playing the villain. Ingrith, as a character holds much anger and rage towards the fairies and will stop at nothing to destroy them. She even recruits Lickspittle (Warwick Davis) to create a deadly formula that she hopes to use to poison all of the creatures and fairies living in the Moors.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil focuses heavily on its female characters while all of the male characters basically take the backseat. This is great to see especially in a film like this one as the story showcases multiple female characters going against one another in a way that is rarely shown in a Disney film. I found this sequel to be even darker and more violent than the original even though it somehow finds a perfect balance in tone between the dark and the light. The bright and colorful scenes that open the film remind the audience that within this dark world the classic Cinderella fairytale still remains.
The film is visually stunning and the costumes are gorgeous as well. It has been said many times before that Disney has really raised the bar when it comes to visuals and costume design. They take great pride in ensuring that each one of their films always looks stunning while the attention to detail of each and every costume is just flawless.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil marks the first time that Joachim Rønning has ever directed a feature-length film on his own. Normally, Ronning works with his best friend Espen Sandberg, but not this time around. Given the grand scale of the world that Ronning created, I would say he did a remarkable job. There are a few issues with the pacing but that more or less stems from a lack of editing rather than his direction. Ronning knows how to capture big epic moments with the most noteworthy being the big battle sequence that occurs during the film’s final 20 minutes.
While I don’t know if I can say that I enjoyed Maleficent: Mistress of Evil more than the original, I will say that both of these films are a welcome change of pace from the classic Disney fairytales. With the financial success Maleficent and hopefully this sequel, I can’t help but wonder whether or not other Disney villains will soon get their own films. I am totally down for more films like Maleficent, I just hope that not all of the iconic Disney villains end up becoming antiheroes. There needs to be a mixture of both but that is a whole other conversation for another day.
Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel’s rating for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a 7 out of 10.