Title: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Director: Joachim Ronning
Genre: Fantasy, Family, Adventure.
Main Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson.
Runtime: 119 mins.
MDb rating: 6.6/10.
My rating: 6/10.
Quick summary: Despite defeating the maniacal Stefan and saving the Moors, Maleficent is still feared across the land. A new enemy appears in plain sight and this time our mistress of evil may lose her life, her land and her goddaughter.
Let me begin by saying that I have been a fan of all of the Disney live-action remakes that I have seen. I loved Beauty and the Beast (2017) when I saw it in theatres. The Lion King (2019) was nowhere near as good as the animated original but it did some things well. I recently watched Aladdin (2019) on Disney+ and it was an enjoyable film. Maleficent (2014), while not a traditional remake and more of a live-action reimagining of the classic, was definitely my favourite of this new direction of Disney movies. There have been some brilliant animated offerings from Disney over the last ten years and their acquisition of the MCU as well as The Simpsons has beefed up their subscription streaming service. The release of Hamilton on the site this Friday will be another big boost, but I think that Maleficent and Maleficent 2: Electric Boogaloo (2019) will do more to attract new fans and subscribers, whether that be people in their 20s like me who have an unbounded love for Disney films or parents who need another debit transaction to keep their kids busy during quarantine.
Despite being a stunning movie with fairies, tree-warriors and colourful woodland creatures, the pacing lets Maleficent: Mistress of Evil down. Running at just under two hours, the story moves along predictably and at a slow and steady speed. There are new elements and races introduced, such as Maleficent’s people, the Feys, that require some world-building, and some plot devices to paint Maleficent as the mistress of evil. However, the first hour and twenty minutes is spent showing Queen Ingrith as the actual dark villain through small conversations and suggestive dialogue with Aurora, the pixie Lickspittle and her son Philip. The last thirty minutes or so burst into life with the final battle and Maleficent’s revenge. This is just my personal opinion, but it could have been cut down to an hour and a half or an hour and forty minutes and it would have been better. World-building, especially if it lasts over a half an hour, does not always bode well for a sequel.
The title is another bug bear of mine. It is plain to see that Maleficent is as far from evil as Aurora. She is first trying to protect her darling goddaughter, second trying to protect the Moors and third trying to protect the Fey as they fly to certain death. She is the most powerful of these dark fairies and must bear that cross with all of her magic. This may sound stupid but the film should have been called Maleficent and the Mistress of Evil, leaving a bit of ambiguity as to who this new villain could be.
Michelle Pfeiffer is fantastic as Queen Ingrith, architect of Maleficent’s doom. She is understated in her darkness, displaying her power through subtle conversation-ending sentences. She retains her composure throughout the film, assured of her victory only for it to come crashing down at the end. I wasn’t a fan of her fate at the end of the movie. I thought that a villain as dark as she deserved a fate like death, but again this is a family movie and maybe I am being too literal.
I feel like I am being a bit harsh on this movie but the final battle does rescue a point or two. It is spectacular, extravagant and full of colour, just like the rest of the movie. Go watch it on Disney+ now! You get a week free before any money comes out of your account!