Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Movie Review: Disney's take on Game of Thrones
A decent sequel, which could've been better had we seen more of Angelina Jolie
What's with fantasy films making their worlds bigger for the sequels? The recent Angry Birds 2 introduced us to a new island in addition to the two we already knew. And now, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the sequel to the 2014 Maleficent, takes it up a notch. While the first part showed us only two kingdoms — one inhabited by humans and the other, the magical forest realm of Moors — the sequel enlarges the map like a new version of Grand Theft Auto. Five years after Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) was crowned the Queen of the Moors, she accepts the marriage proposal of Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson). Just as everything seems to be going in favour of our sleeping beauty, the next conflict comes in the form of Philip's mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), who despises the "other kind" and plans on annihilating them all.
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam Riley
Director: Joachim Rønning
What riled me the most in Mistress of Evil is how Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), the film's lead and the selling point of the franchise, has been sidelined because of the expansion of the universe. We don't get to see her as much as we want to and because of it, the witty one-liners and enjoyable green-coloured magic are missing. The best parts of the film are the ones that feature her. When she says "Love doesn't end well beastie" to Aurora, it reminds us of Maleficent's tryst with romance in the first part. Or take the scene of her responding to Aurora's, "I'm so excited," with the wry, "More than I can bear." Or the one where she hilariously uses her reflection on a stream to practise being courteous when she meets Philip's parents. Jolie pulls off yet another lovely performance that only makes you wish you saw more.
I also missed Sam Riley's Diavel, the most grounded yet funny character, whose screentime too is reduced in this sequel. Pfeiffer, on the other hand, carries her role really well and actually makes us wonder whom they're referring to as the mistress of evil in the title.
Director Joachim Rønning seems to be a huge fan of Game of Thrones, and this film looks like a kid-friendly version of the hit series. For starters, Queen Ingrith's character is extremely similar to Cersei Lannister. She's beautiful, wicked, a princess-turned-queen due to a marriage of convenience, who cares more about the controlling the kingdom than for the people who live in it. The parallels don't end there. She uses an in-house mad-scientist, Lickspittle, a character similar to Qyburn, to come up with a magical concoction as a weapon against enemies, made in a dungeon that is buried at the base of the castle. If that's not enough, there is a scene that reminds us of the Nazi gas chambers which can only be described as a less-disturbing version of The Red Wedding.
It's not all fantasy, however. We are introduced to other Dark Feys, the species from which Maleficent is descended, an exiled race that is left by themselves on a secluded island. Through them, the film talks about real-life issues like racial segregation. In one scene, a battalion ravages through a cemetery foraging for a particular species of flower. Seeing the aftermath, a Dark Fey compares humans to locusts. In another sequence, when Maleficent enters a town, she smirks at people trying to defend themselves with pitchforks. The film has no qualms villainising humankind, and is reminiscent of Avatar for this reason.
The best part of the film, though, are the splendid visuals, which make it worth watching in 3D. The costumes and CG are so good — Maleficent's black wings are stunningly natural looking.
With Disney on a remaking spree, a fresh script, even if it's a twist on another classic fairytale, comes as a fresh breath of fresh air. Yes, it's a big and busy film that lacks cohesion, and one that isn't as good as the original, but Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is still a decent, fun story that won't put you into a deep sleep.