17
Oct
2019
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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Originally debuting in Disney’s ‘Sleeping Beauty‘, Disney’s self-proclaimed mistress of evil, returns in a direct sequel to 2014’s ‘Maleficent‘. 

Fives later and with the kingdom largely in a state of peace, love will test the boundaries of what Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) will wear. Presented with the reality of Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Prince Philip’s (Harris Dickinson) engagement, Maleficent begrudgingly agrees to meet her new laws. However, waiting at the castle, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) has a different kind of welcome in waiting…

... Angelina Jolie is left to prowl around the margins of a script that would have her be queen.

Again taking its irreverent cue that evil isn’t necessarily all that bad, director Joachim Rønning’s ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ is an attractive romp and with fairytale lore as its loose guiding hand. However, whilst the visuals impress, it’s spell-hold is quickly broken.

Playing more like a live-action version of ‘Shrek The Third‘, ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ becomes a frigid case of castle envy. In a script whose strokes are so laboured that the numbers start to colour themselves in, its dialogue takes the hardest of the hits. Whereas Angelia Jolie wins with her to-be-expected put-downs, Sam Riley’s accent veers from Irish to west country brogue and it is Michelle Pfeiffer’s evil queen who puts all other pretenders in their place. Mincing her words into a purposeful pulp, she splits the film’s honours with the film’s most uncredited role: the production design. 

To look at ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ is beautiful. The graphics have their own style and whilst it re-treads a familiar fairy-tale path, Maleficent’s wing-born arrival packs a similar punch to that of sister-in-spirit Hela from ‘Thor: Ragnarock‘. Sadly though the plot doesn’t receive the same level of invention.

Despite carrying a king’s ransom of a cast, ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’s’ seal of approval now hangs on a child-friendly certification and the charms of its feckless lovers. Stuck in permanent orbit around Elle Fanning and Harris Dickinson’s lovestruck couple, Angelina Jolie is left to prowl around the margins of a script that should have had her be queen.

In a film which is so reliant upon magic and yet contains so little of it, Maleficent is another fairytale that has lost its Midas touch. Believe me, when it comes to princely charm, you’ll believe that chipboard cut-outs can talk.

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