By Eliza del Carmen
In a time when live action remakes of classic animated movies are all the rage, “Maleficent” had set itself apart by doing something different with the original story than a shot for shot remake.
The tale of Sleeping Beauty is retold in Maleficent’s point of view. The iconic villain is now the hero of the story, with a backdrop of a unique world. As such, this allowed the studio to create a sequel, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), that is, arguably, the strongest in the Disney live action movie universe.
Movie sequels are fickle – it is difficult to warrant the existence of one, especially if the original film ends with the villains vanished and there’s a happily ever after, as it was with 2014’s “Maleficent.” The best sequels offer audience with what is great about the old and marrying it harmoniously with exciting new elements. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” rises to the occasion, giving us a sequel that builds on the world established in the previous film and takes it further.
Directed by Joachim Rønning, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” opens with a proposal establishing its central conflict – Queen Aurora of the Moors is to marry Prince Philip of Ulstead a neighboring kingdom and their parents or in Aurora’s case, her Fairy Godmother, aren’t too happy about it.
The visuals are wonderful – it could even warrant an IMAX screening, but the CGI does not take away from its all-star cast. Angelina Jolie returns as Maleficent, proving once again she was born to play the role. Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville and most of the cast return to reprise their roles except for Brenton Thwaites who is replaced by Harris Dickinson in playing Prince Philip. The change is seamless, Dickinson plays the doe-eyed noble prince well but of course, the spotlight is on the leading ladies.
They are joined by new cast members such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Warwick Davis and the most notable being Michelle Pfeiffer in the antagonistic role of Queen Ingris. It is always a joy to see a formidable actor play a villainous role. They just have fun with it – and Michelle Pfeiffer is having fun as the evil queen. The scenes between her and Angelina Jolie are delicious to watch – the only bad thing is there isn’t more of it.
Would you need to have seen the previous movie to understand this one? No, not particularly, there’s a quick summary of the events of the previous movie in the beginning narration and the stakes are explained throughout. However, this movie is a direct sequel to “Maleficent” (2014) and to get the full scope – especially the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora, the first film is worth a watch.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” succeeds as a sequel and a stand-alone movie. Furthermore, fans of the classic Disney animated film will be pleased to learn this movie can stand against that as well.