by Kyle Arango
The original Maleficent film really kicked off these Disney live action remakes back in 2014. I know it is not a remake, but it does focus on the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Ever since, Disney has revived many of its popular titles in a new form and the climate is different around them then when Maleficent came out. Now five years later with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil coming out, how will we receive it today? I believe it to be much better. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is the most insane explosion of craziness I’ve seen from Disney in such a long time and I had a blast with it.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil picks up where Maleficent left off. Aurora is queen of the forest while Maleficent watches over her. When Prince Phillip proposes to Aurora and they agree to wed, it seems as if the goal is for the two kingdoms to unite between human and creature, but Phillip’s mother has other plans. This is the problem with the story, it is not about Maleficent. She really doesn’t need to be apart of the plot at all as shown at the beginning of the third act where she disappears for 20 minutes. She is missed in that time away since she is the best part of the film. The pacing is very inconsistent and can make the film feel longer than it actually is. The first act starts off so strong with a lighter tone and some comedy to it. The second act then completely deters from its hot start and bores you with nonsense of winged fairies and trolls before waking you up at the end with a giant Game of Thrones style battle. This film is essentially a slightly more mature Shrek 2 and once I understood that was where we were going, I locked in.
The best part about this film without a doubt is the performance by Angelia Jolie as Maleficent. She completely chews up the scenery and expounds on the character in satisfying ways. In the first film, you could tell Jolie was trying to make something work with the character but could never quite crack it. Robert Stromberg directed the first film with this being his first feature and it was evident he couldn’t quite give Jolie the direction she needed in order to make this character feel fully realized. Joachim Ronning stepped in to direct the second installment and the upgrade is felt significantly from the very first scene. Immediately, Maleficent has a sense of snarky sarcasm mixed with a bit of naivete that helps the character become more enjoyable. She is super funny in the delivery of her lines and you can feel just how much more fun Jolie is having with the character now as compared to the original. This is why when she disappears for 20 minutes it is very frustrating because you enjoyed the direction the character is going in and then they take her completely out of the movie.
One thing I feel audiences are going to walk out of this movie feeling is a sense of confusion in the story. They won’t be sure what feels off until you realize this film is not about Maleficent at all. It is really about Michelle Pfeiffer’s driven sense of war mongering and wanting to kill creatures. Maleficent is a side character in her own film and while Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning are solid going back and forth and the story is somewhat interesting, you didn’t sign up to see a Queen Ingrith movie, you wanted to see a Maleficent movie. That’s not to say the film is a wash altogether. The battle at the end is tremendous and the dinner scene at the beginning is a great source of comedy. This is more about adjusting your expectations to those thinking they were seeing a continuation of Maleficent’s story. She is really a supporting character in her own film. It feels like what Superman was relegated to in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman doesn’t have as much to do as you thought and the same goes for Maleficent.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a tremendous upgrade over its predecessor in every sense of the way. Even though its title character isn’t allowed to take over the plot like she should have, it is still a fun time at the movies. It is way more humorous than the original and has an excellent battle at the end, the story just feels like it could’ve been so much more. If you were a fan of the first, I think you will enjoy this and if you weren’t a fan of the first, I think you’ll really enjoy this film just as I did.
The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars