REVIEW: “Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil”; Missing The Magic Of The Original
To start off, I am a big fan of the first movie, “Maleficent”. There are times I am afraid to even mention that to anyone, because so many people really have such disdain for that movie. But for me, I always thought that “Maleficent” was a retelling of the “Sleeping Beauty” tale. If you want to enjoy the movie, that is how you should look at it while viewing it. So, I would say for a Disney fan, “Sleeping Beauty” is canon, “Maleficent” is not. What I liked about “Maleficent” is that movie really shocked me at times. It was dark, and I mean really dark. When Stefan drugs Maleficent and then cuts her wings off, I asked myself, “Is this a Disney movie?” I also thought Angelina Jolie really killed it as Maleficent and the whole story was something I was not expecting at all, as it had so many twists. All of that combined just made it a very enjoyable movie for me.
Five years later, we are treated to a sequel called “Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil”. Is it as good as the original? I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately, it’s not. That’s not to say that there isn’t some good in this movie. There actually is quite a lot to like about it… but I feel it makes more missteps than good ones.
I want to get to the good first. First is Angelina Jolie. Again, she kills it as Maleficent. If this movie proves anything, it’s that she really was perfectly cast and probably born to play Maleficent. She has the look, for which you have to give a lot of credit to the makeup department, too. She has the attitude. And she really comes off as the Superman in this universe, especially in this one. If you go see this movie, definitely see it for her performance. She does not disappoint.
Another highlight is Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingris. Pfeiffer has always been a great actress and I think her performance as Queen Ingris proves that she can play anything. You can tell by the trailers that Maleficent and Ingris do not get along, so it’s not too much of a spoiler when I say that Pfeiffer plays a really good villain in this. And she just looks beautiful throughout this whole movie. I’m not going to mention how old she is, but she really looks incredible for her age.
The visuals and the world building in this movie are also really well done. I would much rather see this world replacing Pandora over in Animal Kingdom. The creatures are better designed and more colorful and I can just imagine how they would look at night in a theme park setting. They really outdid themselves with the CGI and makeup design. I also enjoyed the musical score, and you can tell that a lot of work went into matching the music to the world of Maleficent and her magical creature friends.
My biggest problem with this movie is that there isn’t enough Maleficent in it. It just felt that way to me at times that she was taken out of her element to introduce new characters that really were not needed. Like I had said earlier, Angelina Jolie is great in this role. Use her. And it kind of ruins the story a bit by introducing more of her species because it robs the character of her uniqueness. I would have liked to have seen her with more scenes with Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, too. They worked very well whenever they were on screen together, and I just would like to have seen more of them.
Another problem is that you don’t care about most of the characters because, for the most part, they just aren’t memorable. It’s been a while since I had seen the first movie, but I feel that the three main fairies needed way more screen time in this. They had a much more significant role in the first movie, and in this one, they are kind of thrown in there. And I just think that Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, needed more character development in this movie or something better to do. By adding so many new and insignificant characters, they shortchanged the original characters from us. The movie also has a lot of political overtones that at times can be heavy-handed. And at times, this movie seemed to repeat a lot from the original movie. By the way, when I said that the best way to look at these movies is as a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”, this movie ruins all of that.
I was really hoping that this movie would have been “The Empire Strikes Back” for a potential “Maleficent” trilogy, but I have a feeling we won’t be seeing that anytime soon. Especially if they wait another five years for the next sequel. I really enjoyed the first forty minutes of this film, but then it kind of went downhill for me after that. One thing that really worked was the strong performances of Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer, but the film could have used more of them and less of less of everything else. My advice is stick to the original. I still think the original “Maleficent” is one of Disney’s best live-action remakes and also is a very good film, if you go into it with the right mindset. But the original, original… ”Sleeping Beauty” outclasses both of them and is definitely one to watch if you need to get your Maleficent fix on.