Movie Review: ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil'

Category:  The Arts
Friday, November 1st, 2019 at 11:07 AM

Unlike its predecessor, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is not a retcon of a fairy tale. It is the continuation of the usual “happily ever after” the first film ended on. Taking place five years later, in both story and reality, “Mistress of Evil” focuses on Aurora’s engagement to Prince Philip.

Angelina Jolie returns as the titular character, while Elle Fanning and Sam Riley both reprise their roles as Princess Aurora and Diaval, respectively. Harris Dickinson portrays Prince Philip this time around.

At the end of the first film, Aurora became queen of the Moors and its magical creatures, leading them under Maleficent’s protection. An unsteady peace has lasted since those events, slowly weakening over time.

After accepting Philip’s proposal, Aurora, Maleficent and Diaval journey to the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead to meet Prince Philip’s parents, King John (Robert Lindsey) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), before the wedding. What follows is an interesting turn of events that spirals into an all-out war.

It could have been a much more intricate and layered movie, and “Mistress of Evil” falls victim to the introduction of too many themes and poor execution. There are so many directions this tale could take, and it fails to decisively choose. The film’s title is “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” yet it treats Maleficent as a secondary protagonist behind Aurora and our villain. Aurora’s journey, getting married, is not that special or interesting, especially compared to the experiences of Jolie’s character.

All good fantasy stories need a villain, and unfortunately this flick falls short. Our villain was already revealed in the trailer; no drama or secrets: it’s Queen Ingrith. The only thing that drives this character is pure hatred. There’s even a scene where she states she’s hated the Fae her entire life, with no cause. She is incredibly shallow as she simply personifies hatred. And unfortunately, there isn’t any buildup or drama to her actions throughout. She drives the plot forward with her increasingly demented plans.

Maleficent grows the most throughout, and it’s a shame the film does not focus as much on her as you’d think it would. During the movie, she discovers a whole hidden conclave of her people. She’s not alone, far from it. Unfortunately, we never learn much other than the basics behind this development. Her people exist, have similar powers and weaknesses as she does, yet we see nothing about who they are or their history. This should have been the focus of the film, as it was a much more interesting path than the fairy tale wedding plot we follow.

For a movie again titled “Mistress of Evil,” Maleficent arguably does next to no evil deeds the entire plot. This was quite disappointing, as she’s supposedly this all-powerful being. At worst, she simply gets upset with certain developments and acts on her rage. Even in the climax, she’s restrained.

Despite these flaws, the film is visually stunning. Many colorful and vibrant scenes play out before us, and the portrayals of magic are beautiful, affecting the tone and mood of the various scenes. Many favorite characters from the first “Maleficent” make appearances and some new interesting creatures appear.

A fun, interesting story fans of the original film should see, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” does stand as a good film on its own, but a disappointing execution unfortunately brings down its potential as a sequel. Nonetheless, it is a fun and interesting story fans of the original will enjoy watching regardless of its flaws.

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