A darker sequel to the first film, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a family-friendly excursion into the consequences of loyalty, love, and guilt.
This Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review contains MAJOR MOVIE SPOILERS. If you have not seen the movie and do not wish to be spoiled, please do not continue reading.
I worship at the altar of Maleficent. I’ve yelled about it before: I will follow wherever the Maleficent franchise goes. Even though this film has so far been given poor reviews and isn’t doing well with critics, it’s not enough to kick me off the hype train. Currently, the film sits at a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 44% over at Metacritic. There are largely complaints about the acting and the absence of the titular character herself. One Mistress of Evil review referred to Maleficent as an ‘enchanted-forest Batman’.
Anyway, this film boasted stunning special effects and gave us more of a glimpse into the world of the moors and of their customs, such as the tomb bloom flowers growing from the graves of dead fairies. We FINALLY see the place where Maleficent herself originated from: a weird spiky Azkaban-like cocoon in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by mist. We meet gentle Conall, who saves Maleficent from Queen Ingrith’s shifty little servant’s iron ball, and warlike crusty-old-man Barra (played by Ed Skrein).
Not only are those two Dark Fey (so we officially learn what species Maleficent is), but the cocoon is a haven for them and a sort of Neverland (multiple different climates all in one place). Their horns and wings and rituals vary and it’s so nice to see the others of the species, all genders, and some almost tribal clans. Maleficent spends a decent amount of time there but unfortunately, it feels like it was rushed and crammed in there to force diversity. Just cut out Prince Phillip entirely and give us more Dark Fey!
Jolie’s acting at the beginning could be described as wooden or that she’s only there to dispense silly quips, but I think, in fact, she is holding herself back and protecting the humans from her true self, especially during the dinner with Aurora, Phillip, and the King and Queen. Elle Fanning plays Aurora with the delicate but feisty charm she did in the first film. If I’m honest, Phillip was as interesting as a ketchup packet, but he wasn’t very important to the storyline anyway because it’s not like he actually did anything during the film except propose to Aurora. Queen Ingrith, as expected, was a snooty bitch with a bone to pick with the fairies and was hellbent on seeing them all destroyed. Diaval is perfect and he got to be a f*cking BIRD BEAR (straight out of a DnD Monsters Handbook). Honestly, Sam Riley should just wear a leather duster in every movie he’s in for the rest of his life.
Somehow Ingrith discovered the spinning wheel and spindle from the first film and has them locked up in her dungeon beneath her closet. By the way, that closet? Definitely stunning and definitely enviable. She keeps Lickspittle (an uninspired performance by Warwick Davis with a soul patch) locked up, and surprise! He’s also fairy folk. I’m almost positive he only exists in the movie to utter the words, “Curses don’t end; they’re broken.” It’s not fair that he lives while Flittle has to die, succumbing to the red powder exploding out of an organ (which, by the way, that whole scene was just a series of question marks popping up over my head).
I will admit that I cried through most of the film and SOBBED through a good stretch there. I’m sure the people in the theater with me thought I was nuts. No, it wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, nor was it the most moving, but I attached myself to the character because I could identify with parts of her origin story in the first film. Maleficent is an important figure for me. Her death in the film hit me like the arrow that speared her heart. AND Aurora called her ‘Mother.’ Cue sobbing. Yes, the phoenix reveal was a little heavy-handed and I kind of knew it was coming as soon as Maleficent burned away into a pile of ashes for Aurora to cry upon. And of course, she returned – just like Conall suggested she might, as the heir to the mother Phoenix.
Like I said, super predictable but emotional regardless.
I try to be fair with my reviews of things and while Mistress of Evil was a fun, sometimes downright comedic film, it did have its lacking moments. The dialogue was silly, there was so much villain-monologuing, and Queen Ingrith had to bring her parasol to a genocide. The Queen’s allergy to flowers was a bit ridiculous as if we needed any more reason to understand that the juxtaposition of fairy folk and humans was the point of this movie. Maleficent becomes the butt of several jokes about humans even though she’s supposed to be learning about them and about their world. I feel it trivialized her powers and shrunk her to a meme and a caricature.
Maleficent is not really the Mistress of Evil–it’s just a title given to her by frightened humans, perpetuated by a queen who fell in love with her Bedazzler. Really the film should have been called something else, like The Gang Starts a War, or maybe Maleficent: Mistress of the Cocoon People.
Have you seen the film? Do you agree with my Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review? Share your thoughts with us!
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is now showing in theaters.
Bekah has a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from Anderson University and is the Executive Assistant at Saga Event Planning. She is a frequent convention attendee and cosplayer and co-hosts The Geekiary webcast “The Bitching Dead”.
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