By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Maleficent returns in a sequel that tries to pull off some thought-provoking commentary on violence and terrorism but crumbles a bit when it is is inevitably reduced to ‘just another kids movie’. All in all though, it was invigorating to see two semi-interesting female villains go head to head.
Directed by Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is set five years after the events of the 2014 film and sees the dark fairy (Angelina Jolie) coming to terms with the news that her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) is getting married to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). When things go awry at an awkward dinner with the new in-laws, Maleficent is forced into exile where she must enlist the help of new friends to defeat the evil Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) and save Aurora and her people.
I feel like I’m not supposed to like this film but I do find myself still thinking about it. Despite the bookends to this tale being overly crowded with sometimes questionable CGI (much like the first film) and fairy tale cheese, there are moments throughout that made me take a step back and admire the way that this film portrayed its two villains. They’re both fairly likable for a start and are complex enough to push past those tiring Disney hero/villain stereotypes.
Michelle Pfeiffer is undoubtedly the real bad b*tch in this film and fans of the delightful 2007 film Stardust will appreciate her return to the fairy tale here. It’s fun to watch her give it her all, as most of the cast do really, even if there isn’t much happening.
Pfeiffer’s appetite for destruction and well, terrorism to put it bluntly, is interesting to watch play out. Anyone is capable of war and genocide and the film puts that forward in a relatively engaging and thought-provoking way until it becomes a bit too muddled and child-friendly towards the finale.
Jolie’s Maleficent continues to be on reasonably good form here too aside from the lousy British accent which is still alive and well (not that Pfeiffer’s was particularly good either). I did miss the sort of Goth diva attitude that made her charming in the first film. There’s way too much time spent on figuring out her origins here which feels wholly uninteresting and also unnecessary. The Moors backstory in the 2014 original was more than enough for me. At least there’s a decent cameo from a Chiwetel Ejiofor.
The epic war scenes in the finale were overkill but director Rønning does deserve some points for creativity. The church scene was especially twisted for a kids film and felt like something out of an early Tim Burton… Problem is, every time this film gets dark and delightful, the next scene immediately brings it back to a lame PG-13. It’s difficult to achieve that balance when you’re making a Disney film.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is now showing in Czech cinemas.
Photo: Digital Spy