Angelina Jolie Returns As Maleficent In Disney’s Violent, Dark, Visually Stunning Fairytale Style “Game Of Thrones” Epic In “Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil”. It’s Over Bloated With New Characters, Leaving No Room For Emotional Impact. Director Joachim Rønning Captures Big Epic Moments In A Big Action Adventure With Powerful Female Characters, Stunning Effects & A Grand Design Wrapped Up In Pure Disney Magic.
Disney’s “Maleficent” was one of the first films in recent years, that Disney has decided to suck the life out of their animated films and the money out of our wallets in order to adapt to live action form. It started in 2010 with Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” and four years later in 2014 came “Maleficent”. Now here we are five years later with “Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil”, the sequel that continues the re-imagining of Disney’s own classic “Sleeping Beauty”. The first film while not becoming the gargantuan box office success that “Alice In Wonderland” was it still managed to become a box office winner for Disney. Many had taken note at how expertly cast Angelina Jolie (who also produced both films) was in the title role.
“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 for things to get out of control.
I ended up being a big fan of the first “Maleficent”. I loved Jolie as the title character, the visual effects, the villain played by Sharlto Copley and always enjoyed dark twists on classic fairytales. The original film took risks and even contained some dark sequences that is not so family-friendly moments.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” has a similar tone to the first film, except this time the writers are much more focused on the build-up to the impending war between the two kingdoms. Those writers are Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster and Linda Woolverton whose credits include: “Mulan”, “The Lion King” and “Alice in Wonderland”. She has a better grasp of the mechanics of adapting a fairytale than anyone else in the business. So she knows what rules to break and how to present them.
The writers have written what is essentially a Disney fairytale version of a “Game of Thrones” episode. The writers pack a lot into the feature film adding on almost half an hour of run time compared to the first film. At close to two hours, it’s longer and a touch draggier than the original, but it moves pretty quickly regardless.
A lot of new ground is covered as nearly the whole second act is focused on learning more about Maleficent’s people and how they were raised in exile. We are introduced to alot of new characters including Conall played by Chitewel “Idris Elba Was Busy” Ejiofor and Borra played by “Deadpool” villain Ed Skrein, who play a pretty significant role in how the story unfolds. So many characters are introduced that there isn’t a lot of room for much emotional connection.
Even Warwick Davis (“Willow”) is recruited to create a deadly formula that is used to violently poison all of the creatures and fairies living in the Moors. This is where “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” veers into not only it’s politically pointed territory including feminism, racial prejudice, racial profiling, war, but even genocide.
The writers also spends the majority of its runtime focused on Aurora and Queen Ingrith played by a scene chewing Michelle Pfeiffer. Unfortunately these two characters have a lot more screentime than Maleficent herself does. Which is a let down as last I checked it had Maleficent in the title.
Maleficent helps set up the initial story during the first 20 minutes and then quickly gets sidelined once Queen Ingrith enters the picture. While she maybe evil and vile, Ingrith isn’t as interesting of a character as Maleficent is, so it’s sad they don’t focus as much on Maleficent. Like the first film Jolie’s performance elevates the film, as she really owns the role. Jolie captures the complexities of the evil villain, while also making her relatable and likable. She is just perpetually misunderstood.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” marks the first time that Joachim Rønning has ever directed a feature-length film on his own. Normally, Rønning works with his best friend and co-director Espen Sandberg, they both directed the most recent and worst “Pirates Of The Caribbean” film in the series. Rønning has created a grand scale of a world filling them with cute little animals and creatures that will be sure to sell at the Disney store. The cute creatures range from pixies that have prickly porcupine spikes to little mushroom people and huge walking trees who appear to be Groot knock-offs from “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
Rønning captures big epic moments including the big battle sequence that occurs during the film’s final 20 minutes. Parents be warned, there is a war in this movie and there are casualties. Rønning and his team’s CGI was pretty much on point and creates a visually stunning film.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” demands that you have seen the first film, in order to keep up with who and why Princess Aurora refers to Jolie’s towering, bat-winged creation as “God Mother”. Disney takes great pride in ensuring that each one of their films always looks stunning and the attention to detail is ensured in each production.
“Mistress of Evil” focuses heavily on its female characters which 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. The sequel is as dark as the first film but more violent, while finding a perfect balance in tone between dark and light. While it’s right in the middle as it’s just as good as the original but yet better. It is a huge action adventure with powerful women, stunning effects and a grand design wrapped up in pure Disney magic.
•Maleficent Mistress Of Evil: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)
•Maleficent: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)