Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil explores the world of its iconic big-bad title character—the witch from the iconic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty—but fans who met her in the 2014 live action film will be disappointed with the overstuffed plot and uneven tone.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) protects the Moors, a place inhabited by a vast array of magical creatures from fairies to humanoid trees. Her daughter, Aurora accepts a marriage proposal from Prince Phillip, prompting talks of peace and unity between the Moors and Phillip’s kingdom. Maleficent wearily meets her daughter’s in-laws, King John and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). The already tense evening escalates when King John becomes cursed and Maleficent is believed to be at fault. She flees, but Aurora refuses to go with her. Maleficent goes on a journey of self-discovery and must restore order between humankind and hers.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is so steadfast in the gritty approach it takes to its fairy tale world, it often undermines the magic that makes these stories so enduringly popular. When it comes to fairy tales, realism and gloom is not what has kept them in the public consciousness for centuries.

Maleficent does have some high points. The costume and production design are phenomenal, further suspending you in this world. There are some pretty awe-inspiring shots from Maleficent’s point of view as she soars through the sky. There are also some interesting ideas about family and parenting here and far more interesting than the exploits of the tribe of fellow fairies Maleficent meets. If any of the individual ideas presented were given room to breathe and develop, the film would be much better for it. Instead, there’s a lack of focus that clouds much of the runtime and it’s clear the film doesn’t quite know what it wants to accomplish. They pack too many characters and subplots into one film.

One of the costs is screentime for Maleficent. The film doesn’t give Angelina Jolie much to do this time around and I was surprised by the scarce amount of dialogue she is given. When she’s training herself to smile or going verbally head-to-head with Queen Ingrith, Jolie shines. Jolie is magnetic onscreen and the film should’ve utilized her powerful presence more. One consolation though is Michelle Pfeiffer delving into the role of a villain. Her passive-aggressive manner mixes well with a jaded, nihilistic worldview and she’s a lot of fun to watch.

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