3.5 out of 5 stars (Above Average)
The original Maleficent is a dark horse in Disney’s live-action remakes lineup. Its choice to reframe the title character from a malevolent villainess to a scorned anti-hero divided audiences and critics alike, but was still a huge financial success. Now, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil concludes the story by being darker, bigger, and better than its predecessor in just about every way, despite some minor (but forgivable) bumps.
In the 5 years since the last movie, Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning given more to do this time) has been made queen of the Moors by Maleficent (Angelina Jolie once again killing it). However, when Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson replacing Brenton Thwaites) asks for Aurora’s hand in marriage, Maleficent is less than thrilled given her tumultuous history with mankind. Worse still, Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingreth (the bewitching Michelle Pfeiffer), doesn’t buy Maleficent’s change of heart and isn’t shy about sharing that. Now Maleficent must choose whether to accept Aurora’s decision or abandon mankind once and for all.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is an improvement on its predecessor. Jolie once again disappears into the character and sells her inner conflict without missing a beat. Fanning takes her increased role with gusto, and Dickinson does well as her dashing beau. Pfeiffer is effervescent as ever, and director Joachim Ronning (replacing Robert Stromberg) keeps the pace up. Best of all, returning screenwriter Linda Woolverton (this time assisted by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster) completes Maleficent’s character arc from the first movie and leaves the door open for a sequel without requiring it. While a rushed second half prevents some plot points from being fleshed out, a strong finale ties everything together without overstaying its welcome.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil builds upon a good foundation with stronger action, a more confident script, and occasional humor that should entertain kids and fantasy fans alike. Please See it.
Rated PG for Intense Sequences of Fantasy Action/Violence and Brief Scary Images