One of our favourite Disney villains is back in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Always a treat to see the dark fairy on the big screen, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) has more to deal with than an attack on the Moors and a betrayal by King Stefan. This time around, Maleficent has to do her best to keep her temper at a minimum with an impending wedding on the horizon. When her goddaughter, Aurora (Elle Fanning) becomes engaged to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), Maleficent is far from happy about the union. While she knows deep down that the pair love one another, but due to her past encounters with the human world, Maleficent can’t help but be wary of what lies just beyond the Moors. Of course, Aurora, being the more optimistic of the two, assures her godmother that she and Phillip will be alright as long as there is love and understanding between them.
Still skeptical about the match and the reaction of the kingdom to the union, Maleficent agrees to join Aurora in a celebratory dinner at the castle alongside Phillip’s parents, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) – the latter of which has a contempt for the fae folk who reside in the forest of the Moors, unbeknownst to her son, husband and Aurora. However, it is not something that Maleficent sees through and from the moment the two families sit down to dinner, the tension is palpable and as much as Aurora attempts to quell Maleficent’s anger, the young woman is unable to keep the feast a happy occasion. With tempers on the rise and the King John suddenly falling ill, the people within the castle believe that a curse by the dark fairy is the reason behind the King’s sickness.
With the queen’s plan to create a divide between fairies and humans forever, Maleficent flees the castle without Aurora, and only her loyal friend and sometimes raven, Diaval (Sam Riley) by her side. However, the drama doesn’t end there and it is only upon meeting several others like herself including Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Borra (Ed Skrein), where Maleficent truly has to choose where she wants to stand as war is inevitable and will soon be upon them.
When Maleficent was released in 2014, it was clear that Jolie was perfect for the part. Not only did she encompass what the villainous fairy brought to audiences when Sleeping Beauty was released decades prior, but she also adapted to the character’s backstory which explained Maleficent’s distrust of humans and other fairies, and Jolie picks up right where she left off. Easily slipping back into both the regality and intimidation that Maleficent oozes, it was great to see the Oscar-winner back in the role. It was also enjoyable to see Jolie’s Maleficent share screen time with Pfeiffer’s Queen Ingrith. With two powerhouse thespians in front of the camera, the interactions between Jolie and Pfeiffer included some of the film’s best dialogue, and most tension-filled moments. While the trope of an evil queen is not one that’s unheard of, Pfeiffer’s part as Queen Ingrith was just as intimidating as Jolie’s Maleficent – and Queen Ingrith doesn’t even have any supernatural powers to frighten those around her. No, she relied completely on her strategic planning and her hate of the fairy folk and the Moors to accomplish her mission, which in some ways was even more disturbing.
While Fanning has more to do as Aurora this time around, the film was ultimately the Jolie and Pfeiffer show – which to be honest, was completely fine by me. As most of the film follows the women’s conversations with one another, some of the dialogue could have been better. While there are some memorable one liners, the script shouldn’t have solely relied upon those but the acting of both women makes it work and every scene (whether it’s shared or solo) is worth every moment. My one wish was that we could have seen more of the new fairies and their land for more of the film. Of course, the world building would have been intense and perhaps the film’s runtime wouldn’t have allowed it, but what was seen in the film was decent. That being said, it would have been interesting to spend more time with those who were essentially Maleficent’s family – but perhaps it’s something that could be explored in a third film or even some kind of fantasy spin-off (yes, I am talking to you, Disney+). While Maleficent: Mistress of Evil may not be perfect, it is a good continuation of the first film’s story and for me, superior to the first. And if you’re using it as an opportunity to see Jolie and Pfeiffer duking it out on the big screen, I’d say Maleficent: Mistress of Evil certainly served its purpose.
Directed by Joachim Rønning, this sequel seemed to have more of an emotional undertone in comparison to the first, and the stakes were also much higher – not only was the world for both humans and fairies threatened by destruction, but the bonds of family were also pushed to their limits. That being said, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil suffers from some flaws that are typically found in many sequels of a fantasy-based nature, specifically some familiar tropes that wouldn’t have been missed had they been avoided. However, the movie was visually pleasing and I enjoyed some of the new world we did have the chance to see. Peppering in some memorable moments, including some action-packed scenes fight scenes, great cinematography, and an unexpected emotional moment that I hadn’t been counting on, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil kept me entertained and dare I say, it was a sequel that was more enjoyable than its predecessor.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil when it soars into theaters this Friday.