Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning are back on silver screen together after their 2014 success. The makers had taken, once a fairy tale (Sleeping Beauty), and converted it to a dark fantasy film. The spin on the classic was interesting and riveting. With the sequel we had hoped to be in for a surprise yet we were nothing short of disappointed.
In a nutshell, Aurora and Maleficent have a falling out due to a third party. By the time Aurora realizes the truth its too late and matters have escalated. Long story short, the duo manages to make up, after a lot of collateral damage. And this time around, there is Aurora’s wedding with a handsome boy, in the picture as well.
First thing that, as an adult watching the film is problematic, is the extremely predictable narrative. It doesn’t take much effort or time to figure out the evil one in the film and what is to come our way.
Having figured it out very early on in the film, there is no element of surprise or even the anticipation of getting one, while watching the rest of the film. Towards the end of the movie, you cannot help but mock the ridiculous screenplay and characterization.
The king and prince are so oblivious throughout the film about the Queen’s actions. All the while she has been running a syndicate within the castle, underground. It was literally right under their nose yet it went unnoticed for so long. The director Joachim Rønning has failed to deliver a convincing enough movie to keep the audiences engaged throughout the film.
For an adult watching the film, the story lacks wit and element of surprise which actually drew the audience towards the prequel in the first place.The sequel is a step down in terms of narrative, there is certainly nothing new in the film for the adult audiences.
The movie tries to incorporate symbolism in a sense that, Aurora changes herself to please the Queen but her forceful conversion is strict contrast from her lifestyle and personality, leaving the once chirpy Aurora dull,sad and suffocated. The prince however accepted her as she was and supports her in staying true to herself. The message is one that has been given multiple times but is certainly a sweet sentiment.
Angelina Jolie is natural as Maleficient, while Michelle Pfieffer is a delight to watch as the “evil” queen. Elle Fanning and Harris Dickinson (Prince Phillip) share an adorable chemistry as young-lings in love. Robert Lindsay as King John is not given much to add to the film, so he comes off as just a filler. The three pixies Juno Temple (Thistletwit), Imelda Staunton (Knotgrass) and Lesley Manville (Flittle) provide entertainment in form of their light bickering. Maleficent’s side kick Raven Diaval (Sam Riley), also added some light moments to the movie but we do wish he was given more screen presence.
The cinematography is impressive, you really get to appreciate Old-stead vs land of Moors in top shots. The detailing and colorful imagery provides a good visual aid. However, compared to the visuals of other films, like even Disney’s very own Aladdin, they leave one wanting more. The costumes are on point and sufficient, to indulge the audiences looking to connect with the characters, well enough. The make-up of Maleficent was the same as the previous film, but the new entries in supporting cast like Borro was impressive and well detailed.
The film even incorporates fight sequences, in keeping with the theme of the film i.e. fight between humans and other beings for sake of power and survival. The battle towards the end once again doesn’t offer the much needed dose of adrenaline or excitement. There is nothing out of the box in terms of choreography, the battle sequence was dragged, the emotionally charged sequences were trimmed to minimum, resulting in a silly chaos within the castle rather than a big time battle. One cannot help but term the overall experience as rather childish.
Joachim Rønning’s film repeats the done and dusted mantra that good always overthrows evil. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, at the end of the day, comes out as a film advocating this moral, making it yet another fairy tale and nothing more. The sequel has nothing new to offer to a grown adults but can be enjoyed by younger audiences ideally between ages 10-15.