With the overabundance of sequels that should’ve not been made, we now have a sequel to Maleficent with the follow-up Maleficent: Mistress of Evil just five years later. It was hard to tell if this was going to be a major surprise or another sequel from 2019 to be labeled as a cash-grab. Unfortunately, it comes off as the latter.
What’s the Story: Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.
From a business standpoint, it makes sense for Disney to give the green light to a sequel to Maleficent since the original was a 2014 hit at the box office, making half a billion dollars worldwide despite mixed reviews. As for my feelings about the movie, I didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters since a lot was going on at the time of its release, but I honestly think it’s one of the weakest live-action remakes from the studio. There was nothing wrong with the performance Jolie gave to the titular character, but this re-telling changed too much of the Sleeping Beauty story that made it unimportant to what made the greatest animated villain who she is.
In a year where the reactions for the latest Disney remakes were very mixed, I feel like non-fans of the first movie cared or even knew this new movie was coming out. None of the trailers showed that this was a good idea, even though a brand new director is attached in Joachim Rønning, who co-directed Kon-Tiki and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Here’s the truth about the movie: this doesn’t come near to being an improvement over the original since it was worse than before.
One thing I didn’t buy in the first film was making Maleficent as a sympathetic character when we all know she’s the best at being evil, and all that changes when she cares for Aurora. But once you know saw the trailers, there’s no way she’s going back to being evil after coming to blows when meeting the future in-laws before the wedding. You already know how everything will come to ahead. Plus, I can’t recall Maleficent having a larger presence in a movie about her.
They fill this movie to the brim of good actors, so why are they involved with this? Returning to the sequel are Jolie, Fanning, and Sam Riley as Diaval. Like from before, Jolie can play this role in her sleep because I do believe she’s doing a good job, just like with Fanning as Aurora. Fanning is one of the most beautiful and talented actresses working today, but I’m bummed she doesn’t do much in portraying this princess. There isn’t anything special about either of their performances, but they at least feel comfortable now. But then you have some new faces joining the cast like Chiwetel Ejiofor as Conall, the leader of the Dark Phoenix Frey, Ed Skrein as Borra, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith doing the best they can offer with this script, but you just feel bad for every performance when they could’ve been in anything better than this.
This also has Harris Dickinson replacing Brenton Thwaites as Prince Phillip, and I don’t want to trash his performance, but there were a few scenes in the first act where he just came across as wooden. As soon as I saw Pfeiffer was in the cast as the Queen, I automatically knew she would be the villain, and I was 100% right.
What truly bogs down why this sequel is nothing to praise about is the story that’s written by Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster, and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, which is forgettable and nonsensical. Not only was this very predictable, but it doesn’t do a good job of leaving anything investing for the viewers to latch onto. Much less make kids pay attention to what’s happening. There wasn’t a moment where I cared about what was going on between the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora, the Dark Phoenix Fey, or anything in between. Not only that, but there were too many visuals that took me out of the movie since the entire environment, and the creatures looked fake with the overreliance on CGI. Right around the 40-minute mark, that was when I lost interest, and it felt like it was going on forever to the point of almost putting me to sleep.
Once the action was kicking in near the third act where this war is going on between Maleficent and the Queen, being entertained isn’t how I would describe it, but it had more action than the previous installment. Rønning provides a beautiful-looking movie with vibrant colors, but he just brings nothing new to what Robert Stromberg originally brought from before except keeping a tone that’s a bit darker. For a movie that lacked excitement, it should’ve been more memorable.
In the end, this was one movie I was trying to give a chance to since I thought the first movie wasn’t good, and yet I couldn’t care less about Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. This is an unnecessary sequel that wastes perfect talents like Jolie and Fanning on a boring story to follow until the end. This is perfect for those that enjoyed the first movie and will enjoy this too. If we’re counting sequels in any discussion, this is definitely up there with Alice Through the Looking Glass as one of the worst live-action Disney remakes to come out. Pretty much the only thing I will take away from this entire movie was that Bebe Rexha track, “You Can’t Stop The Girl,” that played during the credits. Legitimately, it’s actually a good song.