by Charles Kirkland Jr.
Angelina Jolie establishes a new Disney princess in her return to the fairy tale villain in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil role that was a surprise hit for her.
Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) is the ruler of the Moors and her Prince Charming has come. Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) has asked for her hand in marriage. Philips’s father, King John (Robert Lindsay) is delighted by the proposal and the idea that the two kingdoms shall be united. Philip’s mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) is extremely wary. Nevertheless, a huge celebration dinner is prepared for the couple and Aurora’s godmother, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is invited. Maleficent is against the whole idea of the marriage and especially leaving the Moor to meet with the King and Queen but because of her love for Aurora, she relents. Unfortunately, the dinner goes worse than expected with the King falling into a coma, seemingly under a curse from the Mistress of Evil and Maleficent being gravely injured as she makes a retreat from the kingdom. Aurora is now faced with the choice of following her heart and marrying Philip which
means she turning her back on her dear godmother or returning to the Moor and the lives of all the fairies of the Moor.
Joachim Ronning (Bandidas, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) joins the series replacing Robert Stromberg from the original movie and writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster join Linda Woolverton who wrote the first Maleficent, with Charles Perrault. The movie stars Fanning, Pfeiffer, and Jolie along with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein. Ronning does well to capture the magic of the fairy world and the entire film has a feel and look of a brighter Lord of the Rings entry. However, the story itself lacks substance and continuity.
Of course, this movie is a fairy tale story and thus geared toward children. However, it gives no credit to the intelligence of children. There is no mystery in the film. Everything is surface level. The villain of the movie is clear. The motives of the villain are even clearer, even if they are ridiculous. The execution of the plot is very transparent and should be to everyone unless you are in the movie. All of these problems, of course, are excused by the premise that this movie is for children.
Now the continuity. In the last movie, Aurora was made Queen of the Moors. This action was supposed to unite the kingdoms. Yet here in this movie, the marriage of Philip and Aurora is supposed to unite the kingdoms. Also, the first movie was the introduction of Maleficent. Her growth was documented from childhood. In this movie, Maleficent finds a race of her own kind. This movie seems to want to discard the events of the first film and create a new story with a new reality.
The elephant in the room is in the making of this movie itself. Disney has truly achieved a height never before attained with this movie; Angelina Jolie’s first-ever, live-action sequel. Fans could not get a Wanted 2 or Salt 2 and will probably never get a Mr. and Mrs. Smith 2, but Maleficent: Mistress of Evil joins Kung Fu Panda as being the only franchise to coax Jolie into returning for a second installment. Dreamworks and now Disney. What is the commonality? Children’s films. Jolie has intimated that she takes delight in playing roles in films where her children can watch and enjoy.
Rated PG for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is entertaining children’s fare, a fairy tale with no substance, depth or message. There could be an Oscar nomination for costume design (again) but not much else.