In 2014, Disney released “Maleficent,” a live-action retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” where the villainous title character was recast as the hero, more misunderstood than malevolent.
It was an interesting enough concept that garnered even more attention by casting Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. By adding a little makeup enhancement to her already sharp features, she bore an uncanny resemblance to the animated baddie from the classic film.
But beyond all that, the movie was mostly forgettable. Of course, that’s not going to stop Disney from going back to the well when there’s money to be made!
The sequel “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” actually starts strong, picking up right after “happily ever after.” Sleeping Beauty Aurora (Elle Fanning) is ruling as queen of the realm of mythological creatures and she is set to marry charming Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson).
Of course, Maleficent disapproves of the union, as does Philip’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer, in fine form). Aurora and Philip want to unite the kingdoms and bring peace and harmony between humans and the creatures of the woods. Maleficent and Ingrith have too many years of betrayal and mistrust to see nothing but conflict as the result of this marriage.
The stage is set for a compelling allegory on the inherent dangers of unchecked fear of the “other.” But then, it all kind of just falls apart.
Maleficent discovers an entire race of creatures like her led by Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor). She is surprised by their existence, which seems odd since they all live like one block over, but whatever.
We spend the rest of the movie getting peppered with CGI carnage where the stakes are confusing and allegiances and motivations are flipped and flopped without much rhyme or reason.
When the dust settles, the subtlety and nuance the movie promised at the beginning has been cast aside for the path of least resistance with good guys, bad guys, and happily ever after, again.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” doesn’t have anything new or interesting to say and feels like it exists only so Disney can wring every last dime out of its intellectual property. Mistress of evil, indeed.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is rated PG for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images.