Review: Maleficient: Mistress of Evil (2019)

Director: Joachim Rønning
Screenwriters: Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, Charles Perrault
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images
Release Dates: 10/18/19 (Wide Theatrical); 12/31/19 (Disc/Streaming)
Where to Watch: Disney+
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%

Honestly, this film — the sequel to Maleficent, which I actually enjoyed — was hardly on my radar. When I saw the trailer, I was surprised that there was a sequel, but also semi-interested in seeing legends Angelina Jolie and Michele Pfeiffer go toe to toe. And then, when I saw the poor reviews, I decided it wasn’t worth my time. But then, when the Oscar nominations were announced and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was mentioned as an nominee for Make-up/Hairstyling, I knew I had to watch it.

I somewhat put off watching this film, due to my low interest and the poor reviews, but thankfully it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought it’d be. The script is a mess, and in some scenes I wasn’t exactly sure of the tonal goal.

Yet, this sequel still manages to be entertaining somehow. Perhaps it’s because Pfeiffer is so delightfully wicked — mediocre British accent aside — in a villainous role. Or perhaps because, as with the first film, Jolie embraces her complex character so deeply that you can’t help but root for her.

There are some surprisingly funny, charming moments towards the beginning of the movie, moments that I would’ve liked to see more of later in the story. Dakota Fanning is lovely as Aurora, and does her best with a fairly boring character. Harris Dickinson steps in (taking over from Brenton Thwaites) as Prince Phillip, and he’s just fine, but he and Fanning have little to no chemistry. But that relationship is far behind the main one in this movie, which was also featured in the first film: the one between Maleficent and Aurora. Seeing Jolie’s Maleficent embrace her motherly role is a true delight. It’s unfortunate that the rest of the nearly two-hour film couldn’t be that enjoyable.

C+

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