Thursday, October 17, 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Honestly, other than the look of Angelina Jolie as the title character, I could remember almost nothing about 2014's Maleficent walking in to view its sequel. In five years, I'm betting I'll remember even less about Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Jolie and Elle Fanning return as the sorceress Maleficent and the Queen of the Moors, Aurora. The film opens with a proposal by Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) to wed Aurora and unite his father's human kingdom with the magical realm that Maleficent turned over to Aurora at the conclusion of the first film. While Philip's father (Robert Lindsay) is quite taken with the idea, neither Maleficent nor the prince's mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) think much of the pairing as both hold bigoted views towards the other kingdom and the races that inhabit them.

The crux of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil isn't really about Maleficent. Nor is it about Aurora and her love story. Instead, the film is focused on the evil machinations of Queen Ingrith (Pfeiffer) as she works to spur on a war that antagonists on both sides are more than willing to fight once she lights the spark.

There's plenty of CGI here, magical creatures aplenty, and lots of action to fill the film's final act. That said, there's also quite a bit of questionable writing including the bizarre delivery systems created by Queen Ingrith and her toadie played by Warwick Davis (death by church organ? really??). Paradoxically, she has the uncanny foresight to plan for attacks from creatures she had no reason to believe existed. Maleficent herself is put in a box for much of the film, attempting to play nice early, and lick her wounds for much of the middle act, before finally getting to spread her wings a bit at the end.

The discovery of a group of others like Maleficent, which you would think would be a big selling point for the film, doesn't ever lead anywhere interesting, other than offer nameless canon fodder for the final act. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil feels weaker in both story and character than the first film (at least what little I can remember of it). The choice to center much of the sequel away from it's biggest asset certainly doesn't help matters the second time around. Then again, in a few years I probably won't remember anything about this one either.

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