Monday, February 17, 2020

Movie Review: Maleficent - Mistress of Evil

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good story pulls you into this sequel
Cons: Acting doesn’t always work for me
The Bottom Line:
Fairytale sequel
Good original story
Better than the first

“Remind Me, Did He Die, or Was He Killed?”  “Both.”

I’ve tried watching Maleficent, Disney’s live action twist on Sleeping Beauty, twice now, and I just couldn’t get into it.  I just found it too slow to truly enjoy, especially since we knew where the story was going to go.  So when I saw they were going to release the sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, I wasn’t that excited.  However, the previews made me curious just where they were intending to go with the story, so I decided to rent it.  Turned out, I enjoyed it more than the original.

It’s been a few years since we last checked in with these characters.  In that time, Aurora (Elle Fanning) has taken to her new role as Queen of the Moors, where she rules over all the fairies and other magical creatures.  Meanwhile, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is spending her time protecting the Moors from any threat coming from the human world.  Meanwhile, Aurora and Prince Phillip’s relationship has bloomed, and now Phillip (Harris Dickinson, taking over the role from Brenton Thwaites) has asked Aurora to marry him, a proposal she gladly accepts.

Unfortunately, Maleficent isn’t as enthused about the marriage as everyone else seems to be.  Still, she agrees to go to a celebratory dinner that night hosted by Phillip’s parents (Robert Lindsay and Michelle Pfeiffer).  To say the dinner goes badly is an understatement, and soon it looks like war is the only possible outcome.  Can anyone stop what has been set in motion?

Yes, there are still some nods to the original Sleeping Beauty story, but for the most part this is an original story, imaging what would happen next in the world created by the original.  So if you haven’t seen Maleficent, don’t sit down to watch this one.  You’ll be a little confused on what exactly is happening here.  If you’ve seen it recently, you’ll be okay since they do a good job of reminding you about the key plot points from the original.

They story they’ve come up with is a good one.  We get to learn more about Maleficent all while on the edge of our seats wondering how the characters will get their happy ending.  The story does a good job of showing the dangers of blind hate and fear without getting in the way of the story.  I was definitely caught up in the action much sooner and more fully than I was with the first one.

The effects are top notch.  While this is much more live action than some of the recently Disney “live action” films, there are still plenty of magical creatures, which means plenty of special effects.  They all looked great.

My problem with the film comes with the acting.  It’s in the same style as the original, so I wasn’t surprised with some of the choices the actors made.  They just didn’t quite work for me.

Overall, I am glad I decided to give Maleficent: Mistress of Evil a chance.  If you enjoyed the first one, you should definitely watch this one, and if you were remotely curious where they were going to take the story, you’ll be glad you watched it.

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