“Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play”

Director: Joachim Rønning
Writers: Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman-Blue
Staring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam Riley
Release Date: October 18, 2019

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019) has no right to be as good as it is. It is better than the 2014 original Maleficent, and that elevation is due to one person, and one person only.

Michelle Pfeiffer is delightfully wicked as Queen Ingrith. The mother of Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), Queen Ingrith has her mind set on controlling all of the kingdom; this includes the Kingdom of Ulstead and the fairy realm of the Moors. Aurora (Elle Fanning), who is royalty in The Moors, does her best to try and be patient and understanding with her soon-to-be mother in law. However, her shielded impression of people and lack of knowledge regarding Queen Ingrith’s intentions result in many a clash, highlighted by a disagreement between Aurora and Maleficent (Angelina Jolie).

Maleficent’s first meeting with Queen Ingrith did not go very well. There are tensions and spiteful dialogue being tossed around the dinner table, and by the end, magical flames and medieval bullets are being hurled. Maleficent feels betrayed, but in her lowest moment, she is saved by an unlikely person who introduces her to a world of fairy that she did now know existed. Hiding underground away from the hunting humans, the fairy are finally fed up with having to live in the dark. Hence, as you can predict, there is a big climatic battle that pins Ingrith against the fairies, and their majestic beacon of hope, Maleficent.

I am not sure who lit all of Michelle Pfeiffer’s medieval dresses on fire, but she was all over the place in the best way possible. I honestly would put this performance of Queen Ingrith up there with Glenn Close as Cruella in 101 Dalmatians (1996) or Emma Stone in Cruella (2021). Yes it is weird that I picked movies from the same IP, but those were the first two performances that came to my mind. Hats off to Pfeiffer. Without her work, this movie does not work.

I do not know who Joachim Rønning, but this Norwegian director has a knack for directing action. Rønning’s first American movie was Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales (2017), which I saw and remember nothing about…but it does proof that Disney has faith in him to corral valuable franchises. He is even slated to be working on another untitled Pirates project. But back to Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil. The action in this movie is a ton a of fun to watch. Picture Lord Of The Rings type of sieging and entrapments, but toned down (heavily). The ingenuity of Ingrith’s human-made traps to kill the fairies are surprisingly effective, but the violence that the fairies contain is a flip on what people would expect. I loved the action in this movie. When Maleficent came to save the day (oh come on, deal with this spoiler), it was a subtle fist-pumping moment.

Now, as I am praising Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil for exceeding all different sounds of expectations, there are still faults with the movie. My first being a thought I had during the movie: “Damn, this is some heavy things. What are the working with?” This Disney movie, that is meant for kids, is tackling some heavy topics. Political betrayal, a race being hidden, a ruler who wants to commit genocide, and two different sides of a revolution.

Who was this movie made for??

Secondly. There is a MAJOR drop-off in entertainment value when Queen Ingrith or Maleficent are not on the screen. There is a a chasm of entertainment discrepancy when the movie’s two biggest stars are not throwing haymakers. There is something to having an aura around you, and that’s what Jolie and Pfieffer bring. Elle Fanning has a lot of fans, but in Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil she is boring and bland. Chiwetel Eijofor is a recognizable face, but his character was also a cookie-cutter kind rebellion leader. Borra, played by Ek Skrein, looks cool as hell but has moments of dialogue that seem to be written by eighth grade me.

Why was Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil a major project for Disney? It has a legit movie star, a performance for a secondary performer that is better than the money maker’s, and a lot of flare to dazzle the eyes. If we were to take the literal approach and no the fiscal path, Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil shows the audience how Maleficent becomes scorned by family and humanity. When she gets angry, her magic turns green and her eyes shimmer with hatred. Her chiseled cheek bones could be daggers for anyone who gets in her path. The question you have to ask before seeing Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil is how easily do you buy into a quick family reconciliation and how important is a slow-burn versus an bumper car quick vibrations.

For me, myself and I, the performance of Pfieffer is more than good enough, and the action is a huge surprise. So much so that this sequel not only gets the stamp of being an upgrade from its predecessor but it also receives a label of recommendable.

STANKO RATING: B- (3.0/5 Stars)


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