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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (PG)
Running time 1hr 59min
Rating ***

IN the second instalment of this revisionist modern take on Disney’s classic Sleeping Beauty, Angelina Jolie once again stars as the iconic horned fairy-witch that may not be as evil as first thought. Mistress of Evil is a suitable sequel to 2014’s Maleficent. It has similar themes and follows a similar storyline, although it just doesn’t translate quite as well.

The story picks up five years after the original film. In that time, Aurora (Elle Fanning) has ruled as Queen of the Moors, a magical land filled with mystical beasts and fairies, while the powerful fairy Maleficent is the land’s protector. However, in typical fashion, despite her heroic actions at the end of the last film, Maleficent is still deemed to be evil by the people of the
neighbouring kingdom of Ulstead.

When in the Moors, the screen is dominated by magically-crafted CGI creatures. While most of the film is made quite beautiful through the use of these effects, it can sometimes be a bit much. It’s clear that nearly all of the world-building is done through CGI. It has allowed the animators’ imaginations to truly run wild, but at the same time it does make the world of Mistress of Evil feel quite artificial.

After Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) of Ulstead proposes to Aurora, a classic awkward in-law meeting follows, where we are introduced to Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), the film’s antagonist. After the King (Robert Lindsay) is supposedly cursed by Maleficent, all niceties evaporate as Maleficent escapes the castle and is shot down by one of Ingrith’s henchwomen.

The story is then set in motion as Maleficent is saved by members of her near-extinct species who plan to attack Ulstead while Ingrith plans to divide humans and fairies forever by killing all the fairies she can get her hands on. The plot is simple enough and it ends with a gratifying and sentimental climax. As with all Disney fairytales, the suitable parties are either punished or rewarded by the end of the tale.

The films hosts an impressive cast. Jolie once again shines as the title character. Michelle Pfeiffer plays a good part as the sinister Queen as does Elle Fanning as Aurora. Chiwetel Ejiofor also makes an appearance as the leader of the Dark Fae, Maleficent’s race of fairies. However, despite all this talent, the story doesn’t really give any of these characters much room to grow. Much of the plot is taken up with the human fairy conflict, the reasons for being set into motion are lightweight at best.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a live action Disney fairytale that will without doubt entertain fans of the first film. Just like the original, the loving relationship between Maleficent and Aurora is a pleasure to watch and the magical world that they inhabit is fun to escape into. But this sentimentality and CGI wizardry isn’t enough to rescue a lacklustre storyline that never quite comes together. An enjoyable sequel, but not something that will leave you wanting much more.

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