HOLLYWOOD—Just because a movie strikes magic once, doesn’t mean it will necessarily strike magic twice. I’m referring to the sequel to Disney’s hotly popular “Maleficent.” Its sequel, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” sees Angelina Jolie return to the villainess role. Jolie just plays evil so well America; it’s a testament to Jolie’s caliber and range as an actress. She does evil so well, that you really don’t hate her character, you’re inspired by it.
“Mistress of Evil” is not lacking talent at all. In addition to Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elle Fanning, Imelda Staunton are all part of the cast. The acting is quite impressive, but the narrative that is another issue. The sequel has an issue of who is its target audience. If you were to say kids, I would question that. The movie is not completely dark, but I would argue it’s more for kids between the ages of 7-11. So the movie falters in crafting a narrative that can be appreciated by all audiences. My other problem is we have a movie that tries to pit two villains against each other. Now Jolie is indeed the star, but throughout the flick there are those teases of Pfeiffer’s character as Queen Ingrith who attempts to one-up Maleficent. Does Ingrith match that darkness? To a degree, but I rarely think a movie can have two villains, where both standout equally.
This is not to say Pfeiffer falters on presenting villainy, it’s the narrative doesn’t enthrall her as wicked as her counterpart. She has touches of evil; but not enough to impress me. The tale focuses on Princess Aurora preparing for marriage to Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson), who Maleficent doesn’t approve of. She warns Aurora to proceed with caution, just as Maleficent aims to temper her dark side. So there are forces in play here who have ulterior motives that aren’t fully revealed in the beginning, but layer, by layer that reveal comes to fruition.
That’s the grip I have with “Mistress of Evil.” A villainous character can have redemption, but you cannot sell the audience on villainy and not fully give them what they expect from the character. It’s a battle between the remaining creatures known as Dark Fae and the human race. The tale does not envelope the audience as much as one would hope. It has some high points, a fun climax between two great actresses, but beyond that there is not much to brag about.
Having a strong cast matters, but having a strong story is vital to the success of any movie. It appears “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” forgot to replicate some of the things its predecessor did so well.