2014’s Maleficent was entertaining and while it had its issues, I still appreciated it for what it was. With that being said, I was hoping for this sequel to be an improvement over the first film. Luckily, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is better than its predecessor in several different ways and proves to be worthwhile. Some sequels are just clear cash grabs, whereas others build upon the story and have something of quality to bring to the table. This film is the latter and that is the only type of sequel that should be made.
This cast is heavily responsible for a good portion of this film’s success. Angelina Jolie is once again a dead ringer for the character of Maleficent and gives a great performance. I really loved seeing Elle Fanning come into her own as a powerful adult woman here. Fanning was just a child in the first film where as here she is so much more commanding and possesses a lot more spirit. Her new persona/energy works very well and I loved seeing it on display throughout. Harris Dickinson plays Prince Philip and I thought he was very endearing and lovable, just a joy to watch. He was very easy to pull for and connect with.
I’ve saved the best for last. Michelle Pfeiffer is electric as the Queen. Pfeiffer goes for it head on, chewing scenery and camping it up. She makes for a very strong villain, especially since she’s given many opportunities to own the screen and show us her devious side. Unfortunately, there is one downside to the cast and that’s that Chiwetel Ejiofor is underused and his role isn’t of much importance at all. Ejiofor is such a fine actor and would’ve liked to see a bit more of him.
The visual effects are something else that’s wonderful here. There’s such a sense of adventure and wonder in many of the shots, especially when Maleficent discovers a new place. The new place she goes to is so wonderfully designed and I was wowed by the originality of it all. That was definitely something I was pleased with because it was something new and creative. Design and atmosphere are both such useful tools and I love to see filmmakers get creative with those things. The action sequences are handled well and it’s all energetic enough to keep the audience’s attention. As far as writing goes, there’s some good and some okay material. First off, one of great things about this script is that it highlights the relationships between Maleficent and Aurora and between Aurora and Philip. I love that those relationships were kept important and were cared for.
The script allows for Philip to actually be a somewhat substantive character, unlike in the first film where he was basically chopped liver. Characters are important to this script: Maleficent, Aurora, the Queen, and Philip are all nurtured and developed nicely, which helps the film tremendously. The so-so aspect of the writing is the subplot of Maleficent discovering a new place with new people. I like that the writers included this, I really do think it’s interesting, but it is a lot to cram into a little subplot. I felt like it needed a little more fleshing out in order for us to get the full effect. Ejiofor’s character is unfortunately sacrificed by this script and I realize there’s only a certain amount of time and things don’t want to seem crowded but his character is very interesting and I felt he needed more time than what he received.
Overall, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a worthwhile sequel and while it does have its flaws, I think it’s better in several ways than the first film. So go relax and have some Disney style fun!