There are some moments of funny writing and real gravitas... thanks to Jolie
Still not as bad as Aladdin or The Lion King
Pretty much everything else
God, there's gonna be a sequel, isn't there?
Okay, let’s call it! Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has to be the last life Disney has in this classic animation to bland live action game, right?
‘Cause Aladdin was bad, The Lion King was a travesty, and while Maleficent isn’t nearly as terrible as either, it’s still far from what a movie of its calibre—given the source material, actors, and budget—should have been.
Not that the collective series of adaptations have been great. Even the first Maleficent, which was already one of the stronger entries, was plagued with some narrative issues. And narrative issues continue plaguing the franchise.
While the beginning of the movie already carries a rather campy attempt at being cheery, it is the looming futility of the characters and stellar cast that ultimately crushes the existence of this movie.
I’m generally all for family friendly movies that carry darker themes in subtle ways. While the recent Disney fare has obviously not been of that variety, Maleficent’s been the only probable avenue for something more than campy relationship stories with a sickeningly happy ending wedding scene.
SPOILER ALERT: That’s exactly what we get.
While most of the movie plays out like a very high budget Disney Channel Original Movie, the true tragedy is the wasted cast.
Boasting the likes of Elle Fanning, Ed Skrein, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Robert Lindsay and Michelle frikkin’ Pfeiffer, the entirety of the cast is squandered to essentially facilitate a half-baked plot about Maleficent’s reputation of being evil.
SPOILER ALERT: She’s good.
Which you already know, ‘cause it was the entire point of the first film.
Labelling the story contrived would be a disservice given as to how there is little attempt to ensure a coherent motivation for the sudden need to add about 40 new characters—most of which were CGI “characters” reminiscent of George Lucas going crazy on the 1997 edition of the Star Wars Trilogy.
In addition to an entire forest of CGI creatures straight out of the Prequel Trilogy’s reject pile, more of the budget was splurged on an army of Fae (Maleficent’s species). It’s here that both Ed Skrein and Chiwetel Ejiofor find themselves playing tropes of characters better left as background extras on whatever the next YA novel adaptation is.
What could have been an exploration of the trials of survival being a necessary evil against the ideologies of harmony, is simplified to an arbitrary excuse for Maleficent to turn into a dragon-thing at the end of the movie, and another “true love” cliche that is delivered as clumsily as Michelle Pfeiffer’s lines in the climax.
Again, SPOILER ALERT: Pfeiffer’s the bad guy.
Despite all of the time Maleficent: Mistress of Evil wastes, Angelina Jolie is spectacular. Making just about any scene with her tolerable regardless of the shoddy writing or utter vacuum of charisma that is the Prince guy, she’s the sole argument to catching this movie.
Otherwise, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is best left to a watch on the upcoming Disney+. It’s out now but, maybe go watch Gemini Man instead.