Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)
Directed by Joachim Rønning
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson and Michelle Pfeiffer
The Disney machine started their new round of live action films inspired by their classic animations with 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. Tim Burton’s film was a box office hit, and critics mostly favored its adaptation.
Then Disney rolled out Maleficent, a re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty, and the critical response was great too, mostly due to the performance by its lead. But when Disney went back to the wishing well a second time with the Alice sequel, the result was a box office bomb. So why would the studio tempt fate with a second Maleficent? Two words, Angelina Jolie.
The first Maleficent film was a powerful allegory for rape and redemption. Mistress of Evil goes astray, focusing on building a world around it’s misunderstood main character instead of increasing her lore through good storytelling.
The first act is very entertaining. We learn more about the world Sleeping Beauty inhabits alongside one of the best “meet the in-laws” dinner scenes since David Lynch’s Eraserhead.
The film falls apart in the second act, though, relying on heavy exposition and even heavier-handed introductions to creatures and their origins. This could have been better served as a well placed animated sequence at the beginning of the film, like in Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008).
After the second act’s major lull, the third seems promising but ends up being the same old CGI battle we have seen over and over since the Lord of the Rings Trilogy built the template.
So to answer the question, “did we need another Maleficent film?” Maybe, but not this one. Mistress of Evil feels more like a generic “World of Sleeping Beauty” than the in-depth characterization of its main character that made its predecessor work.
With Mistress of Evil following in the footsteps of the second Alice in Wonderland, this should put a stop to any more sequels. No amount of Angelina magic will bring back the Mistress of Evil after what is sure to be another box office bomb.
If the first Maleficent was a B, and the second Alice in Wonderland was a D, this sequel scores a C.