A Magnificent Maleficent

‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ is a devilishly fun film


Tim Powers, Staff Writer

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the follow-up to 2014’s massively successful “Maleficent,” a retelling of the Disney classic “Sleeping Beauty,” not only holds up to the standards of the first film, but expands on the universe’s mythology and characters in a meaningful and interesting way. 

The film begins a gleeful five years after the events of the first film. Prince Phillip enlists the help of the creatures of the moors to propose to Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), who eventually says yes. But not everyone is as happy as she is. 

Maleficent, her godmother, doesn’t like Aurora’s betrothed because he is human, and his family doesn’t like her because she is of the moors. Tensions between the two parties reach a high point when they meet for the first time and it doesn’t go well, resulting in Maleficent “attacking” Prince Phillips’ father. But, secretly, Prince Phillips’ mother, Queen Ingrith, is planning an attack on Maleficent and the people of the moors because of her disgust for how they are magical creatures instead of humans.

The film features Angelina Jolie returning as the magnificent but maligned, Maleficent in pitch-perfect casting. The first film should have garnered Jolie an Oscar nomination, at the very least, with her take on the famous villain. Jolie, once again, gives a delicate and hilarious performance as the mistress of evil. Jolie gets many wonderfully dramatic one-liners that bring a lighter tone to the film. With just a smirk or a wink, Jolie is able to convey an enormous amount of emotion. The actress continues to add to the magic and takes Maleficent’s story beyond the page, making her one of the most complex characters Disney has ever had. 

Elle Fanning, who reprises her role as Princess Aurora, is given more to do in this sequel. Fanning really brought out her acting chops for this film, showing audiences exactly why she was the perfect choice to play the Sleeping Beauty. In one particularly harrowing scene for the princess, Fanning is able to show us different sides to her character that aren’t often associated with Princess Aurora. It is quite nice to see Disney take one of its most famous characters and do something different with her. 

The standout moments of the film are the visuals that are on display. Disney spares no expense when it comes to how a film looks and “Mistress of Evil” is no different. With impressive visual effects that build up the “Maleficent” universe, flawless, unforgettable and visually-pleasing scenes are created. It is hard not to want to walk through the fields of the moors and swim in its lakes with how beautiful they are. 

The costumes are even better this time around. Jolie and Fanning have many striking costumes that are sure to earn the film’s costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, an Oscar nomination later this year. 

The narrative comes to a climax with the big battle that is very reminiscent of the ideas behind World War II and the Holocaust. It was surprising at how dark this film was willing to get considering it is a Disney movie. If anything, that was its struggle: maintaining that balance of telling a story of sorrow and keeping it family-friendly. This is most evident at the end of the film when the tone shifts from the imagery of a big, deadly battle to the imagery of a happy wedding in less than five minutes. It was a sudden change of tone that seemed out of place and like a decision made by an executive. 

Overall, the film provides an entertaining two hours for audiences through telling an interesting story. It has everything anyone could want: romance, drama, action, funny one-liners and beautiful shots to admire. This is by far one of the best sequels Disney has released, especially in regard to its live-action remakes. If you enjoyed the first film, you will love the second. 

4 out of 5 stars