Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – A Visual Curse of Fantasy Lost

Disney for many, is a place of magic and wonder.  From amazing theme parks to the grand fairy tales, they have provided a great escape to fans for generations.  Through the big screen, they have created many timeless classics.  To recapture that magic, Disney has been in a renaissance through the reimaging of these in live-action.  From The Jungle Book to Aladdin, Cinderella to The Lion King, Disney has recaptured those memories in a new way.  The next in line is an exploration of a story beyond what is known.  With an expanded lore and a charismatic lead, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a sequel that delivers a visual pariah that pushes forward a simple story of who is, the mistress.

The film furthers the story of Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning), as their bond is pushed into conflict because of a new love interest in Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson).  This engagement leads to new challenges, as Maleficent must face the truth of her past while preserving her bonds with Aurora and the world of the fairies.  Reimaging the classic Sleeping Beauty through the perspective of the villain in the 2014 film was a new twist to the traditional formula.  With this sequel, it allows for the direction to freely explore and expand the concept.  In the beginning, it focuses on combining fairy tale clichés with dramatic elements of human relationships.  At the forefront is the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora.  This is pushed to conflict because of the introduction of the love interest with Prince Philip.  This creates a dynamism that pushes the ideas of the mother/daughter bond.  As they are introduced to the rest of the ancillary characters, it allows for a fermentation of the fairy tale elements.  These ideas give more depth to Maleficent, Aurora and the world.  As the story moves along, the new concepts and characters put new twists to old traditions, but it is the lead that makes everything enjoyable.  Jolie is enchanting once again as the titular character because of her physical mannerisms, astute line delivery and layering of emotional depth with subtlety.  Her strong presence commands the screen, a positive when everything begins to go astray.

As the story progresses, it starts to get saturated because of the overabundance of CGI.  As the film bombards the audience with ‘style over substance’, the flaws of the film come to the forefront.  Even with a strong lead, a lot of the ancillary characters, including Prince Phillip and Queen Ingrith (Michele Pfeiffer), become imbued with the typical fairy tale archetypes.  This is further complicated by the conflicting tonal shifts and huge stretches of monologues that slow the momentum of characterization.  Everything comes full circle in the third act when the traditional ideas of ‘good vs. bad’ is turned upside down.  When both sides come to battle, there is a dilemma of values that puts value on character choice.  This leads to a climax that adds another layer to Maleficent but drives home a new dynamic of family and love.  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil does a lot in expanding the lore but gets lost in the visual spectacle of the fantasy.  Even with some obvious faults, there is enough to enjoy the journey.  If you’re a fan of the 2014 film or Disney fairy tales, this is one for you.  I think it is a fun time for the family.

Full Score – 3 out of 5 (Theater Discount)

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