Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a new yet familiar fairy tale that explores dark themes for all ages. While occasionally hampered by attempts to reign in the darker subject material, it never loses its sense of purpose.
Mistress of Evil is set approximately five years after the events of Maleficent, in which we learnt that she was not the villain we thought she was. But time had not been kind, and the kingdom has forgotten that it was Maleficent who broke the curse of Sleeping Beauty, to save Aurora (Elle Fanning). Maleficent has become reclusive in the Moors, and spiteful towards humans. Her love for Aurora is put to the test when she becomes engaged to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) and has to meet the King (Robert Lindsay) and Queen (Michelle Pfeiffer). When dinner ends badly, the King falls under the same sleeping curse as Aurora, and an all-out war against the Faye folk of the Moors breaks out, threatening both kingdoms.
Director Joachim Rønning brings an array of strong fantastical characters to life, maintaining the complexities and nuance they require and never burying the conflict each of them feels; while allowing enough subtlety for the audience not to feel over-burdened by the melodramatic narrative that would typically accompany a fairytale movie. This is best exemplified with Angelina Jolie’s menacing, yet subtle performance as Maleficent. She successfully manages to create a multi-faceted, yet deeply scarred and intricate character with unnerving poise and ease.
With an original story that borrows from many classic fairy tale themes, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has an energized look and feel. Screenwriters Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster explore themes of betrayal, vengeance, redemptive forgiveness, and even genocide without overwhelming the audience, namely the younger target demographic.
The expanse of this boundless fantastical world creates such a rich environment for endless storytelling…even another a sequel or two! Both deeply imaginative and beautiful Maleficent: Mistress of Evil should be held as a benchmark for fantasy films. Engaging and exciting from beginning to end, audiences of all ages are sure to be thoroughly entertained.
By Kyle J. Steenblik
In US theaters and UK cinemas this Friday 18th October 2019.