Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) travels to a grand old castle to celebrate young Aurora’s (Elle Fanning) upcoming wedding to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). While there, she meets Aurora’s future mother-in-law — a conniving queen who hatches a devious plot to destroy the land’s fairies. Hoping to stop her, Maleficent joins forces with a seasoned warrior and a group of outcasts to battle the queen and her powerful army.
The first Maleficent film was one that I was honestly not too sure what I would end up thinking of it. I only watched it for the first time this year and it was originally released back in 2014 and since its release, I had not heard too many people discussing the film to this day.
But I ended up giving it a chance and I ended up thinking that it was actually a good movie. It boasted an amazing performance from Angelina Jolie as the titular character, had some exciting action sequences and the story was one that captivated my interest for the most part. After my initial viewing of that movie, my anticipation for the upcoming sequel grew.
When it comes to that original picture, one of the things that I enjoyed about it a lot was Elle Fanning’s performance as Aurora, which many others thought was weak and non-interesting. In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, there are times where Aurora feels like the main character, despite the title having Maleficent’s name in it.
A large portion of this story focuses on Aurora and Prince Phillips’ wedding and the dangers and threats that come with their eventual wedding date. Tensions begin to rise among certain people which culminates in a heavily interesting and thrilling story, and one that I was unsure of how it would go down.
Fanning is asked to do a lot with just her facial expressions this time around, and she blew me away. Her acting is truly amazing here, and I think others will agree this time around. There is one sequence in the third act where she cries, and it looked one hundred percent real and convincing. It did not sound like Aurora was crying, it sounded like Fanning was crying.
Naturally, Jolie is terrific in her titular role once more in this follow-up. Since the events of the predecessor, her life has changed and she is a different, and most importantly, better person since the death of King Stefan and since she has continued to raise Aurora as her daughter. During the second act of Mistress of Evil, Maleficent is faced with a new, mysterious group of people, and this entire subplot was one that was eerie and thought-provoking. Just like Fanning, certain scenes ask her to do a lot with her facial expressions and she pulls it off and makes it look so easy. Sometimes, Jolie will say one line but it carries so much meaning. If any other actress was playing the character of Maleficent, it would not work as well. Jolie is perfect for this role.
A ton of people are going to drive out to their local theatres to see this movie in hopes of some high adrenaline, family-friendly action, and if you are looking for this, you are in luck. When it comes to PG rated action, this is some of the best you can watch. Mistress of Evil contains some of the best action sequences ever put in a live-action Disney film, with a lot of the action being legitimately impressive. Something that surprised me about it was that some of it was character centered. Certain characters are involved in the action and have to find their way to avoid death and there was many scenes that were full of tension.
One of the biggest problems that I had with the original Maleficent was the computer-generated imagery. It was a big mixed bag for me. Some of it, like the ending dragon scene, was quite impressive and nice to look at. However, on the other hand, there was some CGI that looked awful, most notably, three little fairy characters that looked extaordinarily jarring and off-putting.
Gratefully, this time around, almost all of the computer-generated imagery is gorgeous to look at, and there are barely any scenes where the CGI looks bad. The three little fairy characters do return unfortunately, and the CGI on them still looks jarring, but luckily, they are barely in the movie. The visual effects in this movie overall greatly impressed me.
This movie is not perfect, however. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could honestly pick apart a lot of this film and find little gripes and nitpicks along the way. One of the biggest issues with Mistress of Evil is the script at times. A lot of the time, the script can get messy and a bit all over the place. The first act is actually kind of a drag to get through upon first viewing. The reason why is it’s a setup act. It exists to create conflict between certain characters, introduce the real plot of the movie, and set up motives. After that first act though, the other two that follow are exceptionally exciting and are filled with fun moments along the way that will satisfy many viewers, especially fans of the first film.
Another issue is in relation to the main antagonist of the film. As far as I am aware, the main villain of the film is not known to the public, so I will not mention who portrays the villain here, just in case you do not know. All I will say is that the villain at times has a motive that you think you understand, but then at other times, it seems like they have absolutely no motive, and it feels like they are clichéd. This character was just not that compelling to be honest.
Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning shine in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, a sequel that surpasses its predecessor with exciting action, an interesting story, and good visuals.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: PG for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Michelle Pfeiffer
Directed by: Joachim Rønning
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Running Time: 118 minutes