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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil


Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Lindsay, David Gyasi, Jenn Murray, Miyari, Warwick Davis, Judith Shekoni, Kae Alexander, Emma Maclennan, Freddie Wise and the voice of Aline Mowat.

Screenplay by Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman-Blue.

Directed by Joachim Ronning.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 118 minutes. Rated PG.

Going into the screening of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Five years on from the original Maleficent, a movie I rather enjoyed at the time and had pretty much totally forgotten since then, is there really a need for more from this franchise? Who has been waiting for this?

Well, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil isn’t a great movie, but it’s a very good, enjoyable movie. It is smart, well made and totally formulaic. It is full of grand visuals. It has all the necessities for a Disney classic: grand castles, princesses, cute forest creatures, dragons, magical creatures, dashing princes, fairies, dwarves, derring-do, huge battles, evil queens.

And, strangely enough, it has a surprisingly deep message, a rejection of genocide and the denunciation of people who are different than you. Of course, a fantasy action movie about a woman with wings and horns is not going to delve deeply into such profound issues – in fact, to a certain extent it gave unrealistically easy happy endings some of these problems – but hey, it’s a fairy tale, not a documentary.

One thing that you notice early on in Mistress of Evil is that Maleficent – the “misunderstood” evil queen from the Sleeping Beauty legend as played by Angelina Jolie – has become something of a supporting character in her own film. This film revolves much more around Aurora/Sleeping Beauty, who has grown from a girl to a confident and kind young woman in the years since the first film. (Elle Fanning – who plays the role – was 15 when the first film was made and is 21 now.)

Aurora is in the middle of a bit of a Montague / Capulet relationship. She is the only human in the magical moors – beloved by magical creatures, fairies, and her stern adapted mother Maleficent. Aurora is being groomed to take over as Queen from her mother.

Across the river is the home of the humans. Aurora is in love with the dashing Prince Phillip of the humans (played by Harris Dickinson, who seamlessly replaces Brenton Thwaites who played the role in the first film). His mother, evil Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), sees the impending marriage of her son to Aurora as an opportunity to seize the land of the magical beings – breaking the peaceful truce that has lasted since… well, the last movie.

Therefore, after an exceedingly awkward meet-the-future-in-laws dinner, Ingrith uses fear, slander, lies and subterfuge to turn her subjects against the supernatural denizens of the moors. Maleficent is attacked and injured and nursed back to health by a lost colony of her own creatures, which have been in hiding from the humans. In the meantime, the magical creatures of the moors are being lured into certain death by the wedding.

It’s nice to see a diva throw-down between the two iconic actresses of the ‘90s, though neither are given enough to do, particularly Jolie.

In the long run, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is formula. It could have been written by a committee, or even by a computer program. However, it is rather enjoyable formula. If you’re a fan of Disney fairy tales, this is a pretty well told one. Keep in mind though, that some of it may be a bit intense for small children.

Chances are, like with the original, in five years when they will undoubtedly make the next chapter in this saga, I will have completely forgotten Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. In fact, it’s already fading from my memory. However, when I was experiencing it, I rather liked it.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: October 18, 2019.

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