Maleficent's tale as old as time gets a new set of twists and turns to add to its classic magical world in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Taking off from the last film, the sequel starts off with Prince Philipp and Aurora's engagement. However, the young queen's assimilation into Philipp's family eventually causes a rift between her and Maleficent, when the latter's existence is threatened by Philipp's mother, Queen Ingrith.
Is a second movie worth the watch? Read up on our review below, and find out for yourself.
What I liked about it
It's visually stunning.
Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick certainly didn't pull any punches when it came to the opulently magnificent fairytale garb worn by the characters, as evidenced by Aurora's collection of dainty emroidered frocks, and Maleficent's constantly transforming silhouette. This, matched with production designer Patrick Tatopoulos' all-around palatial sets, made for a visually remarkable spectacle for the eyes.
They delved into Maleficent's growing humanity.
Angelina Jolie, with her ever-regal face, does a splendid job at bringing out Maleficent's conflicting temperaments at the forefront via subtle changes in facial expressions. As suggested by the end of the first film, Maleficent's love for Aurora has unearthed her uneniable humanity, a fact that she herself struggles to deal with all throughout the movie. Thankfully, this internal battle doesn't entail all brooding takes and fits of confused anger. Instead, we see Maleficent actually expressing her love for her daughter through subtle gestures, extending herself to meet Aurora's wishes. Seeing a mother-daughter dynamic play out between the supposed villain and heroine in the story is a breath of fresh air, and a tad comedic at that.
We got to explore more of Maleficent's origin story.
It turns out Maleficent isn't the only one of her kind as we're led to believe. The sequel reveals a whole island of horn-clad, wing-born creatures just like her. And no, they're not an army of Disney villains just biding their time to wreak havoc for no reason. As you do find out in the film, they're all just a band of misunderstood dark fey forced into hiding for being different, while succesfully further adding depth to Maleficent's fairy vs humanity struggle.
What I didn't like about it
Aurora's characterization fell flat.
For the majority of the movie, it seemed Aurora had one job: to appease Maleficent whenever she was on the verge of throwing a fit. While we do see a commanding queen working to keep the fairy people in check, and fighting for her marriage with Phillip, at the start of the film, we're never quite met with the same purpose-driven girl for the rest of the story. Instead, Aurora turns passive and subservient to the motions of the events around her. Not to take away the little fight she did show by the third act, but one could only hope her courage and conviction was more evident and consistent all throughout.
It unearthed more conflicts than it could properly solve.
Without giving away too much, it's safe to say the screenplay for the movie spun itself way too many problems and complications than it could rightfully chew in the span of two hours. By the end, due to a lack in time probably, the audience is rewarded instead with an onstensibly glorious deus ex machina moment that's somehow meant to suddenly fix the literal bloodbath happening down below.
They let the boring prince take all the credit in the end.
Spoiler alert: much like every Disney film that ever lived, everyone, except the [real] villain, naturally got their happily ever after. But most importantly, the humans and the fey finally find peace and unite through Philipp and Aurora's marriage. Who gets all the credit for this? The bland white man with the sword, of course. Where Maleficent flew over oceans to defend her kind, and Aurora leaped down castles screaming for peace, it's Phillip and his 15 minutes of screentime that's given the literal pat on the back by his father, as King John utters a line close to "This is all thanks to you,"in reference to the happy ending taking place on screen. Somehow, in a movie helmed by two strong women, they still managed to prop the male character as the hero in the end.
So should you watch it?
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a visually gorgeous feat that takes liberties with its high fantasy card. It's ultimately an enjoyable family movie meant to teach kids about unconditional love and accepting one another regardless of one's nature. That said, entering the cinema entails a suspension of disbelief, and learning to roll with the fantasy aspect of it all no matter how farfetched it may get. Which isn't a new requirement for a Disney film especially if you're simply there for a feel-good experience.