What “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” lacks in originality it makes up for in breathtaking visuals and stellar performances.

Well, well. Five years after Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent comes a subsequent sequel. As I’ve stated before we did not need a sequel to Maleficent but these movies are major money makers and the more money the better for the Walt Disney Company. Now if a sequel was absolutely necessary then I wouldn’t be mad with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Disney will continue to makes these movies along with the live action iterations of their classic movies if we like it or not because they are huge money makers. I’ll be the first to say that this sequel is a welcome improvement from the original.

The film featured some returning characters and a few new characters peppered in. Among the new characters were Warwick Davis as a captive pixie. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein as dark fairies like Maleficent, and the ever-talented Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith, mother of Prince Phillip. The rest of the cast was rounded out with returning characters Maleficent played by Angelina Jolie, an effervescent Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora, Sam Riley as Diaval the raven, and albeit with a new face Prince Phillip played by Harris Dickinson (who is a massive improvement from Brenton Thwaites) The standouts (obviously) were Elle Fanning, Angelina Jolie, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Jolie is a vision as Maleficent and while we know she’s able to portray the character’s fierceness with ease she also gave us a phenomenal performance as a more vulnerable Maleficent. When on screen together they presented a tour de force of acting. Michelle Pfeiffer and Angelina Jolie’s scenes together were fierce. As she was relatively young when she filmed the first film Elle Fanning dug deeper into Aurora’s character for this film and was able to present her with more personality and strength that doesn’t come to mind when some think of Princess Aurora. Aside from the three that were previously stated I have to recognize Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein’s performances. They presented their characters in a way that the audience might actually remember them and care about them after the movie is over.

I’ll say this once and I’ll say it again. I truly hate how they portray the three good fairies. I think they paint them in a bad light and I hate that because it’s the complete opposite in Sleeping Beauty. I love the way they portray Maleficent and I think it’s great to see her portrayed in more of a positive, motherly role. But you don’t have to do that at the disposal of the good fairies. I will say that they improved in the sequel but it’s still not the Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather that we’re used to.

The first Maleficent does not do a good job with its plot. It’s muddled and all over the place. And this one unfortunately does not improve upon the first film’s mistakes. But I didn’t expect it to be substantially better than the first one in the plot department and that’s okay. Not every movie is an Academy Award contender and we have to be okay with that. This movie is pure entertainment and I lived for it.

On another note, I will say that this movie is really dark. I don’t know if I would take my kids to see it before watching it myself. Yes, it’s Disney. But it deals with some deep and dark stuff. *Spoiler ahead* In the same vein as Avengers: Infinity War the fairies and magical creatures are basically sprinkled with a magical dust and they fizzle away. I think it’s a movie that is definitely for a more mature audience.

If you’ll recall my post about my favorite live action Disney movies (https://reedsreelrants.com/reeds-top-10-live-action-disney-movies/) I was not at all impressed with the visuals and effects from the first movie. But the visuals in this film were stunning. The landscapes and castle-scapes were gorgeous and all of the creatures were done really well too. They were most definitely on-par with this year’s The Lion King and Aladdin. Hair and makeup also did an outstanding job with everything from Maleficent’s costumes to her cowl.

Last, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a good score and let me just say that I was very impressed with Geoff Zanelli’s masterful and beautiful score. As soon as I got in my car I started playing the score on Spotify because it was so good. It was subtle where it needed to be as well as loud and robust when the two sides are battling it out in the end.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I hope you do too! It’s a great film filled with the message of unconditional love. Just beware if you have little ones this film might have scenes that are little too violent for their young eyes. Definitely don’t sleep on this one! (pun intended)

Rating: 7/10

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