“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is a sequel to the first Disney switch-up to “Sleeping Beauty” called “Maleficent”. The idea of looking at the fairy tale story from a different perspective was well-received. Which is to say – it made a ton of money. In the same way that the Broadway play “Wicked” is a twisted take on “The Wizard of Oz”, the backstory of “Maleficent” was a way of retelling something that people already knew, but from a different angle. It was a piece of the Disney treasure trove that could be brought out and given a new life. So, now in ‘Mistress of Evil’, the main character is again up to her old tricks…
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is still a major player in the Moors, a place of magical creatures and fairy tale whimsy. She is a ‘Dark Fae’ – a powerful fairy creature, but the last of her kind. But the one in charge day-to-day is Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) – she was the one sleeping for all those years before. She is in love with Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) who was NOT the one to apply “True Love’s Kiss”. But he’s a nice, bland Prince in any case. The two lovebirds plan to get married. Phillip’s family is thrilled with Aurora, but not so much enamored with her god-mother Maleficent. There is some read bad blood between her and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). When Aurora and Maleficent come over to the castle for a friendly dinner – there are sparks that fly. As well as bewitching spells. The King falls ill, and Queen Ingrith blames Maleficent.
Maleficent flies away on her powerful bat-like wings. But she is brought down with a small shot of an iron ball. Of course – all Dark Fae are vulnerable to iron pellets. Who know? Why the evil Queen, of course – because she has her little hidden lab and arms factory cranking out all types of iron weapons for who knows how long. Maleficent is gravely wounded, but she is saved by a group of other Dark Fae – all with the wicked horns and bat-like wings. They have been banished from all other lands around the Earth, so the remnant of the Fae folk are huddling in a deep underground cave. It actually looks more like Pandora (from “Avatar”) but who is keeping track. Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Borra (Ed Skrein) are on opposite sides of the Peace / War factions.
Diaval (Sam Riley) who was once a raven turned into a human is on the lookout for Maleficent. Aurora leaves the Moors and starts to stay with Phillip and his mother – the scheming Queen Ingrith. She wants to join the Kingdoms together, so that she can plunder the Moors and take away all the riches. Diaval has overheard some of the nasty things that Ingrith has in mind, so he works with Aurora to plan an escape. Maleficent has not been seen for days, and she is presumed dead. But she was resting until she regains her strength to help in the attack. The Fae folk plan to storm the castle and take out the Evil Queen. Moor creatures had been invited to the castle for Aurora’s wedding – but they are in a trap to eliminate them.
The three most powerful women meet on the top of a castle tower. Princess Aurora believes in Peace and Love, and walking barefoot through the Moors at midnight. Queen Ingrith believes in War and Hate, and loves to handle high-powered crossbows for the heck of it. Maleficent believes in Dark Fae magic, and she knows that if you Desire Peace, then get Ready for War. That’s a little like John Wick in a way…
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” attempts to do a huge of world-building in a very short amount of time. Some ideas get rushed along and they never take root. The story does not have a whole lot of meat on the bones. So it makes up for that by moving quickly from place to place and not allowing anyone to take a breath. The entire design of the Moors and the secret Fey folk place are very detailed and bright and cheery. The battles between the Dark Fey and the Kingdom are quick-paced and fast moving. The little Moor creatures get invited into a closed room to be killed off – that got real dark real fast…
Angelina Jolie has a blast playing this character again. She makes every glare and every look carry dire meaning. Her costuming has a fantastic look to it. She is ready to take no prisoners in her quest. Michelle Pfeiffer is just as good on the opposite side. She conducts herself royally, but she has a hard-edged General Patton outlook to War. These two make good counterparts for the movie, where both of them can pull off some scathing one-liners at each other. Elle Fanning does not have as strong a character, but this girl’s not a damsel in distress – she can take care of business when she needs to.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Directed by: Joachim Rønning
Screenplay by: Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman-Blue
Story by: Linda Woolverton
Based on Characters from: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Michelle Pfeiffer
Length: 118 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images