"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" will be released Oct. 18. (Image courtesy of Disney)
California School of the Arts

Review: ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ lacks true Disney magic

Five years after Maleficent’s (Angelina Jolie) act of true love saves Aurora (Elle Fanning), the world is still convinced that her evil nature prevails due to a twisted tale. When Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) proposes to Aurora, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) sets her evil plan in motion to divide the humans and fairies.

In “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” Maleficent and Aurora find themselves torn apart between their own people and the ones they love; relationships are questioned, lives are at risk, and the peace of the land lies in their hands.

While colorful woodland creatures and high-flying, intense action sequences carry the film along, the story is messy and predictable. Although interesting enough to captivate young audience members, the movie falls short in creating a realistic story, even in a fairytale land.

Maleficent’s stereotypical, expected storyline detracts from the audience’s vision of her as the strong, main character. The power and intimidation usually associated with Maleficent shines through in a less-than-ideal amount of scenes.

The first film was based around looking at the story of Sleeping Beauty from a different perspective and seeing Maleficent struggle with her morals. This sequel’s pitfalls lay in its lack of unique perspective and interesting internal scuffle. Some scenes were shocking for a PG rating, with countless onscreen deaths as adorable woodland creatures are massacred by a magic red dust. 

The final battle and climax of the film, while spectacular in soaring action and special effects, falls short in a resolution that seemed lazy and unrealistic in the war’s deescalation. However compared to the first film, the story’s pacing, effects, and cast grows a little bit stronger. Other actors like Pfeiffer and Fanning are allowed more room to showcase their talent. Pfeiffer’s role as another evil queen was truly maleficent, and Fanning’s portrayal of a girl torn between two sides of her life shines through. 

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” follows the common trope of a character discovering a family exactly like them, and realizing that their true family lies in-between both worlds. The same goes in “Madagascar 2,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2 and 3,” and “Kung Fu Panda 3.”

Of course, this film has its own places to shine in both cast and special effects. Angelina Jolie as a threatening, yet awkward mother trying to reconcile with the soon-to-be in-laws gives us humor in-between tension.

The film doesn’t drag on, even with its two hour runtime. With upbeat pacing and excitement in almost every scene, the movie is well-tied together. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is one of the first live-action remakes that no longer has to follow an animated original. We can only hope that Disney uses this further to their advantage by creating a more complex story if this series is continued.