Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review
Today's movie marks the return of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. For those that remember, Maleficent was the main villain in the animated Sleeping Beauty from Disney. Like a lot of people, I've always praised the green-skinned demon/fairy as one of my favorite Disney antagonists, due to her grace, elegance, and overall design. Some might wonder why not someone more modern like Gaston, Frollo or Ursula; someone that has more motivation and development. Part of it is a nostalgia factor. When I was a kid, I was both frightened and entranced by the horned villain. Something about her portrayal seemed commanding and serious while being an animated character.
Of course, 2015's Maleficent tried to do what the Wicked musical did: by taking a black and white villain and showing her side of the story while proving she wasn't as bad people thought. I thought the live action version had potential, but was bogged by a script that was afraid to go too far with making her character bad and seemingly making all the wrong choices to the other characters. But it was still a big hit, and if a hit movie comes from Disney, then a sequel is immanent. So now we have Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
In the years since the events of the first movie, Maleficent (played by Angelina Jolie) is still an outcast from the kingdom as people think she's evil. But her goddaughter Aurora (played by Elle Fanning) knows the truth and has taken position as Queen of the Moors, the forest where all the magical creatures lie. The big day comes when Prince Phillip (played by Harris Dickinson) finally proposes marriage and she says yes. Aurora tells Maleficent and the news doesn't go well. Through persuasion, Maleficent agrees to come to Price Phillips kingdom to meet his parents.
Aurora and Maleficent are introduced to Queen Ingrith (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) who already has a clear prejudice on magical creatures. The dinner goes awkward and gets worse when Ingrith announces that Aurora will be like a daughter to her. Maleficent is pushed to her limit and demands that Aurora leaves with her. She refused, Maleficent flies away, cursing her daughter, but also getting shot down with an iron pellet (iron is her weakness). While Aurora questions her choices in the queen's castle, Maleficent is rescued and brought to a land where more people of her kind exist and want revenge on the human world.
I already disliked the first Maleficent, so I had low expectations coming in. Unfortunately, the movie still seems to be misguided all over. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil certainly had a chance to do more of it's own thing. It just so happens that the same themes are present about how prejudice is bad and how humans in this world suck. So we already feel like were watching the first movie again.
Unlike the first where you got a sense the actors were trying, it seems like everyone is giving a similar dull performance. Angelina Jolie is dull, Elle Fanning is dull and even Michelle Pfeiffer is dull. I'm not sure if they were directed this way or if this was a contract-based obligated situation, but this only adds to the film's story problem; nothing really happens nor does anyone change. Oh sure, we do have a fair share of magical creatures, swordplay and even a third act war. But when you really think about it, it doesn't make any impact on the characters and how they view others. If the movie doesn't care how this does anything for Maleficent, then why should I.
Because of this, the movie comes out as more boring then anything. Though the first Maleficent was boring as well, I at least remember a summary of it. I doubt that I could recite any quotes or scenes from Maleficent: Mistress of Evil save for it's production design. I think this is a movie that put most of the direction into how it looks rather then what's on the inside. It's a cinematic plastic doll. It looks manufactured and feels manufactured. I'm sure this may have some fans, but I wouldn't be surprised if kids would rather watch another Marvel movie or even Frozen for the ninetieth time.
I'll give this two Maleficent dragons out of five. As I said, the costumes, sets and effects still look nice, but without an engaging story or character, there's no reason to get on board. At best, this may have life in stores giving demonstrations for it's high definition quality. Otherwise, this is a sequel that can stay sleeping.