Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Prenuptial unease is taken to extremes in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the second instalment of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty revamp. The fierce Angelina Jolie and darling Elle Fanning are back as the not-so-evil godmother and child. This time, they are joined by Michelle Pfeiffer as spiteful yet dazzling mother-in-law to be Queen Ingrith.
Immediately delving into a wondrous fantasy land, Jolie’s Maleficent opens the movie by voicing Aurora’s desire that Ulsted, the human kingdom, and her own Moorland could live in harmony. The enchanted moors roll with love and colour as Aurora navigates her first days of diplomacy as a young queen. If only there could be a union. Cue dreamy Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) emerging from a billowing willow tree to pop the question. However, marriage doesn’t just mean love. It means family, and neither Maleficent nor Prince Phillip’s mother are quite on board. The embittered human queen uses the wedding as a cover to launch a war against the magical folk of the moors.
The thinly-laid plot is enriched by its fantastical backdrop. Maleficent relishes in the decadent forest world laced with magic and mystery. She discovers that her own kind, on the verge of extinction, have been shunned to live hidden in the caves. Although it’s less dark and dreary cave life, more reminiscent of Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountains, the film’s parallels to our own tormented planet are clear.
Jolie’s psychologically rich portrayal endows an otherwise bland narrative with substance. The outwardly hardened shell concealing an inwardly fraught psychological centre are matched marvellously by Ellen Mirojnick’s showstopping costume design. Unfortunately, neither Aurora nor Queen Ingrith brings a fraction of Jolie’s depth. Scenes without Maleficent are left to trudge slowly onwards. Although she has a kind spirit, Aurora is in dire need of princess lessons from the women of Frozen.
Ultimately, it is with a heart of gold that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil asks its human characters to share their earth with its rightful inhabitants and give their loved ones the benefit of the doubt. The film is resolute in its message that family comes in all shapes and sizes and that, no matter the illusions of difference, if there’s a will there’s a way to bridge the seemingly insurmountable divide between kingdoms.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is released nationwide on 18th October 2019.
Watch the trailer for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil here: