Friday, October 18

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Dir: Joachim Rønning

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Warwick Davis, and Michelle Pfeiffer

A group of men are walking through a dark and mystical forest carrying lanterns. They are entering a forbidden territory in hopes of stealing something magical for the human world. Before these trespassing men can accomplish their goal, they are confronted through the shadows by a horned creature with fiery eyes, massive wings, and glowing green supernatural powers. 

While this may sound like a perfect premise for a spooky Halloween movie, this introduction, the scariest moment of this otherwise overly tame fairytale, belongs to Disney’s sequel “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”. Angelina Jolie, returning as the re-envisioned villain who demonstrates more heart and sympathy than anger and vengeance, brings a calm yet intimidating demeanor to the iconic villain of the animated “Sleeping Beauty”. 

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) have been living a peaceful existence. Aurora is the ruler of an enchanted land, a forest-like domain where fairies fly with water droplets and fields of glowing dandelions grow in majesty. Aurora becomes engaged to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) which disrupts the already complicated bound with Maleficent. The ensuing nuptials bring about the hope of peace between the human and fairy world, however, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) has other devious plans in mind for Maleficent and Aurora. 

Director Joachim Rønning, who last helmed 2017’s “Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”, handles the difficult task of continuing the story, which seemingly didn’t need a sequel, of the Disney villainess. Though the cause for story continuation here is assisted by three extremely talented actors who are doing their absolute best to bring life to this familiar tale. 

The role of Maleficent seems tailored for Angelina Jolie, her grin is especially utilized with numerous emotions fluctuating throughout. Unfortunately, much of the character development in this film is a retread from themes from the first film, still, there are a few moments where Jolie is provided room to expand the character. Elle Fanning adds some much-needed character charm to the film with Aurora, the character becomes the vessel for peace between two worlds, the primary conflict of the film. Michelle Pfeiffer is a good choice to counter Jolie here, she plays evil with glee in almost every scene.

Unfortunately, all these great actors are stuck in a film without a strong narrative standpoint. While the film is aiming to display themes of accepting differences and embracing family in whatever form it may take, these components are often undercut by the need to adhere to the familiar fairytale, storybook steps. There are a few interesting moments involving the evolution of Maleficent, which allows the character to find the emotional conflict to bridge towards the finale. And whenever Maleficent is allowed to be vulnerable, which doesn’t happen enough, the film finds its stride in displaying its core theme of embracing difference and the dedication one has to family.  

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” has a great cast who are stuck within a story that never allows them to grow into anything different from everything we already know them as.  This doesn’t help the journey this sequel is trying to promote but instead makes it seem somewhat one-note which is unfortunate when you have such a unique character like Maleficent, played by a dedicated Angelina Jolie, holding the frame.

Monte’s Rating

2.25 out of 5.00

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