Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Pfeiffer Maleficent: Mistress of Evil sees the return of Maleficent and Princess Aurora as they face a terrifying turmoil, meeting the in-laws. Not only that there may be a surprise twist in the wings in the shape of Maleficent’s own forgotten people, the Dark Fey led by Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a terrifyingly poor film. I wasn’t a fan of the first outing of Angelina Jolie’s anti-hero and it likely has something to do with my adoration of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent’s portrayal in that interpretation. When I was a child I adored the character.
She was pure evil, had a fascinating motivation and intriguing design and best of all could transform into a dragon. She also had one of the best battles against the prince of the tale, Prince Phillip. It’s astounding that I still remember it to this day.
In 2014 we were introduced to the misunderstood Maleficent, I suppose Disney was hoping to capitalise off of the Wicked concept, that villains can be relatable and redeemable. It worked and the film was a surprise hit. This happened because obviously Jolie’s incredible presence and charm won over audiences.
Now 5 years later we get the sequel no one asked for in the shape of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil & its many, many, many problems
Where to start? I suppose I should begin with the casting of Michelle Pfeiffer. She is translucent in her portrayal of the well-meaning mother in law. You know from right off the bat, or should I say the sinister cat she owns, that Queen Ingrith is the villain of this piece and she is awful. She is xenophobic but in the blandest and most predictable fashion. There was an opportunity to have her match Jolie in presence and wit with accompanying one-liners but sadly she is wasted, much like the rest of this cast.
On wasted casting, Chiwetel Ejiofor does nothing in this film. He shows up early in the film and his presence should be this incredible revelation to both the audience and Maleficent but instead, he’s nothing but a mouthpiece spouting cliché ridden lines about peace between the supernatural and natural lands. He’s not a character, he’s the writer and director trying desperately to give Jolie’s Maleficent a motivation. I say this because for 90% of the film she is doing nothing except listening to people tell her what she should be doing.
Whether it’s from Elle Fanning’s unimpressive Aurora telling her she needs to fit in with Aurora’s growing family to Ed Skrein’s Borra telling her she should bring the war to the humans because she’s a chosen one with gifts no other Fey has access to, Maleficent is being pulled in many directions and none of them feel like they’re because of her decisions. It takes away the strength of the character that earned in the first film.
There’s also the issue of the direction and writing of the film as a whole. When the third act kicks off and there is this huge battle director Joachim Rønning can’t decide on the tone he wants. The battle is too dark for children with people screaming and dying but there is not a drop of blood to be found so it doesn’t feel like there are real stakes for adults so there is a sense of confliction in the tone of the narrative. This continues with the “humour” of the film because not a single joke lands and worse yet after some horrific things happen to some character there are poorly timed jokes that just don’t sit right.
Maleficent: Mistress of Mishap
If I can think of anything that is somewhat decent in this film it would do with the cinematography and the special effects. I have to say when the Dark Fey and their society are introduced I was intrigued. Their story is played out and clichéd but their designs are gorgeous. Every Fey that is onscreen has their own unique design and I loved it. There is also a shot in the final act of the film that involves Maleficent that is spectacular in design, it involves a bird and that’s all I’ll say.
Ultimately I come to this conclusion. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is pointless, a waste of the potential of its cast and doesn’t even live up to its own title. Stay tuned to Scannain where hopefully I will have a positive review coming up soon.