Time to once again fork over our hard-earned cash to yet another live-action Disney film. Man, you’d think in some harsh dystopian future these films are all that remain of cinema, they’re that common. Maleficent was one of the first early box office hits for Disney and no matter where I looked, read or who I spoke to, each person had their own opinions. Some were surprised by the depth the film had and some were just surprised at how bad it seemed. Being someone who only just watch Maleficent the day before I saw Mistress of Evil, I still felt an undecided opinion. That all changed after the credits rolled on Mistress of Evil and I’m hugely disappointed by how far this film has fallen from its predecessor.
I was constantly scouring the frame to find anything that I enjoyed from the first film that had survived any form of the chopping block. Thankfully, it seemed to be the case that for children, there is still that whiff of a valuable message. Without giving too much away the film revolves around the wedding of Maleficent’s goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), but there is also the valuable story of not forgetting where you come from, something that is woven into the fabric of this narrative quite well.
Although I wouldn’t say the characters are exactly the strongest suit in Mistress of Evil, I did grow to like Diaval (Sam Reily). I think Reily is an underappreciated actor who could grow into a great one and the role of the quirky servant to Maleficent suits him very well. He does provide the odd chuckle here and there, most certainly the warmest part of the film.
The familiar better than its master, surely not? Unfortunately, it’s true. Maleficent is an unsettling villain there’s no denying, and her unsettling nature made the character into a very memorable Disney villain. So why then did I feel too unsettled by Angelina Jolie’s performance? It must have something to do with the fact that she never blinks underneath a huge amount of makeup. In fact, almost every performance is so monotone that trying to have a connection to a character is near impossible.
While the concept of looking at a world from the perspective of the villain isn’t something new, it’s common knowledge for anyone seeing Maleficent: Mistress of Evil that we won’t be getting a so-called conventional fairy tale. With that being said, it doesn’t stop the film from forcing that piece of information down your throat. There are so many nods to classic fairy tale tropes as well as tropes from Sleeping Beauty that after a while it gets very irritating. We’ve already got the picture so let us try to enjoy the film.
I knew immediately that I was going to be in for a rough time when the narrative at the beginning of the film told me to forget everything that happened in the first film. It’s back to square one with Maleficent as she starts out being just as hated as she was from the beginning. I hate it when films do a U-turn on themselves, it feels like the filmmakers were embarrassed by the first film, so a clean slate was necessary. But the kicker is, they write the characters as though the changes to them in the first film still affect them, so the audience gets very mixed messages as to what matters and what doesn’t.
Let’s get on to talking about the thing that is going to be very clear from the moment the film starts, how this film excessively uses CGI to bring this world to life. To be honest, I was expecting worse, that isn’t to say that it’s neither good or bad, but I’ve seen better and worse. The main flaw is that the creatures that inhabit the world do stand out from their surroundings, although they’re quite imaginative. Three characters, in particular, I found quite creepy were the fairy godmothers (Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville), they’re superimposed faces on CGI fairy bodies could very suddenly cross into the stuff of nightmares if the quality was any lower, their voices also seem to have been altered to give them a higher pitch which if Alvin and the Chipmunks has taught us anything, will get very annoying, very quickly.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a big step back from what the series could evolve into. Instead of preaching an alternative look at a typical fairy tale story, it feels too much like a typical fairy tale story. I got thinking about fairy tale films and wondered if audiences (possibly the world) had moved on from them, I don’t think so, but told through the art of film possibly. However, if anything has become apparent from Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, is that what the stories are trying to say still get through very clearly. At least the film can hold onto that fact, now it just needs to improve on everything else.
Final Result: 2/10 – Very Poor
Have you seen Maleficent: Mistress of Evil? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Doctor Sleep