‘Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil’ (2019)
Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by: Matt Joachim Ronning
Written by: Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster & Micah Fitzerman-Blue
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Leslie Manville & Michelle Pfeifferr
Another Disney movie in theaters this weekend is ‘Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil‘ which is a sequel to the 2014 box office hit centered on the titular character best known as the villain from ‘Sleeping Beauty‘. The premise is simple: after years of raising Aurora as her own daughter in The Moors, Maleficent is invited to a dinner at the royal palace to celebrate Aurora’s engagement to Prince Phillip. Unbeknownst to all, Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith, is determined to use the dinner as a way to paint Maleficent as a truly wicked creature in her bid to expand the kingdom, destroy all the mystical creatures in The Moors and claim its resources for her own. Angelina Jolie stylishly reprises her role as Maleficent while Elle Fanning returns to the role of Aurora with wonderful doe-eyed innocence. Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple are also back as the 3 colorful fairies while Sam Riley returns with his wry humor and perfect comedic timing in the role of Diaval. The role of Prince Phillip has been recast in the form of Harris Dickinson who plays a serviceable role, but for me, lacks Brandon Thwaites‘ (who played Phillip in the original film) stormy presence.
New characters Conall (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Queen Ingrith (portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer) were the standout performances for me along with Angelina Jolie who I would have liked to see more of in her own film. Visually, the film is wonderful – colorful when it needs to be and appropriately dark when necessary. The concept of xenophobia looms large in this one and it showcases the harm that can come from fear and intolerance. Overall though, I feel like this would have been just as good as an animated feature instead of a live action opus. A sequel was inevitable with as much money as its predecessor brought in at the box office, but “inevitable” doesn’t always nor should it equate to “required”. There isn’t quite as much fun in the second go around and, while it presents a beautiful spectacle, it’s just a little on the underwhelming side overall. Die-hard Disney fans will no doubt turn out to see it and, to it’s credit, it is an original story and not another one of the live-action remakes of an original cartoon classic so it does have that going for it. Overall, I’d rate this film as a worthy effort that falls somewhat short making it a 6 out of 10 for me and I’m adding a point due to the performances delivered by Jolie, Pfeiffer & Ejiofor. This may be one you want to save for Redbox or On Demand.