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‘Maleficent’ sequel deepens and darkens her story

| Friday, November 8, 2019

Diane Park | The Observer

In 2014, director Robert Stromberg released “Maleficent,” a spin-off of the famous 1959 animated Disney film, “Sleeping Beauty.” The movie was considered a commercial hit in the box office and even received an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. So it came as no surprise that, five years later, a new director, Joachim Rønning released a sequel to “Maleficent” entitled “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.”

The film takes place five years after the events of its predecessor. Aurora (Elle Fanning) reigns as Queen of the Moors, with Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) as its protector. Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) proposes to Aurora and takes her to the kingdom of Ulstead, where people still see Maleficent as a villain. As a result of this, the power-hungry queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) attempts to kill Maleficent after Maleficent seemingly cursed her husband. After Maleficent is wounded, Ingrith goes to war with the Dark Fae.

Unlike the first film, where it concentrated on retelling the plot of “Sleeping Beauty” in a darker way, the sequel goes out of its way to tell a more gripping story of who Maleficent is as a Dark Fae. It was interesting to see a more underground and secret organization of the Dark Fae, who had despised humans since time began. 

In regards to Ingrith vs. the Moors, that is the whole concept of the film. That is another reason why this film was so dark and — according to critics — why the plot was all over the place. It’s a shame too, because the Ulstead subplot was a key component to the final act of the film during what was supposed to be Phillip and Aurora’s wedding, which ended up turning into a complete massacre of the Moors denizens. The addition of more Dark Fae adds a darker undertone to the film, which was a sort of a downfall of the film. The filmmakers spent way too much time on Ingrith’s descent into madness and chaos and not a lot of time on the Dark Fae.

Another aspect of the film that really gives it a dated feel was the special effects and the CGI. The special effects came into play during the climax of the film when a crimson powder (iron) is used and it looks too outdated, mostly due to the fact that the powder looked like rusted smoke. The CGI was no better either, mostly in the parts with the Dark Fae and their hideout. Maleficent’s magic looked fake and seemed to be rushed. 

The film was beautifully made and the actors did an outstanding job in bringing this masterpiece to life. Jolie and Fanning’s performances stole the show, as well as Pfeiffer and Chitwetel Ejiolfor (Conall, leader of the Dark Fae.) The supporting cast was also great throughout the 118-minute runtime, especially with Imelda Staunton, who played Knotgrass, one of the fairies from the previous film.

The cinematography and editing definitely worked hand-in-hand, and the set designs are some of the best set designs ever put in a Disney film. The use of wide angle shots and lighting really help set the tone of the film. The costumes — ranging from brightly colored clothing to the black colored clothing — are also a really great aspect of the film from both Maleficent’s to her servant’s, the raven, Diaval (Sam Riley). 

All in all, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is a good successor to the first film in the making. The combination of stellar performances from the cast, the cinematography, editing, set designs and costumes gives the film a darker undertone and sets in motion what could be the greatest live-action sequel made in Disney. The only downsides are the plot being all over the place and the special effects with the CGI. If anyone was a fan of the first film, then the second film is just right for them.

 

Title: “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

Starring: Elle Fanning and Angelina Jolie

Director: Robert Stromberg

Genre: Fantasy/Action

If you like: “Maleficent,” “Sleeping Beauty”

Shamrocks: 4/5 

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