By Troy Ribeiro
“Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil”; Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Michelle Pfeiffer; Direction: Joachim Ronning; Rating: *** (three stars)
“Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, is the sequel to the 2014 released, dark fantasy adventure film, “Maleficent”, which was the original live-action, re-imagining of the classic, fairytale, “Sleeping Beauty”.
The story takes a leap here. It stretches the original tale. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is put in a tight corner when her adoptive Godchild, Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), aka Sleeping Beauty, agrees to marry Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) when he proposes.
The lovers’ union would be a blessing, so thinks everyone, as it would unite and bring peace between the human Kingdom of Ulstead and the Kingdom of Moors, where the mystical creatures reside.
But then, despite being happy for Aurora, Maleficent warns her, “Love does not end well…”
Aurora, thinks that her Godmother is just being difficult and coaxes her to visit her future in-laws as the Prince wants her mother to meet his parents, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith ( Michelle Pfeiffer) .
Maleficent reluctantly agrees to visit the castle in Ulstead. But with the treatment she is meted out, she is forced to unleash her wrath, which she does, with the help of a hidden tribe of her people, led by a peacemaker, the compassionate Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and a battle–hungry, upstart Bora (Ed Skrein).
The first act of the film is frivolous followed by lots of fun which is essentially, a magical ‘meet the parents’ act. The final showdown, a pitched war, is a full-on blast that keeps you engaged with your jaws wide open.
Technically, the film does not lack in any division. The Special effects and 3D animation are simply perfect.
As for the action sequences, the frames feel overwhelmingly computer-generated. Mounted on a grand scale with an elaborate texture, the film is visually splendid. The camera movements are smooth and provide a panoramically full-spectrum view, that makes this fairytale appear crackling with energy, especially during the climactic sequence.
Jolie, Fanning and Pfeiffer are the holy trinity of this narrative but unfortunately, their character arcs are imbalanced. The trio are brought together only twice and fail to make an impact on both occasions.
The plotline marks the transition of Maleficent from a concerned and protective Godmother to a warring Mistress of Evil, but truthfully, her character is far from cruel, and thus does not carve a niche in ones’ mindframe.
Ingrith’s antagonistic leanings are one-dimensional, far-fetched and unconvincing. Whereas, Fanning appears as a weightless damsel keen for adulthood and marriage. She is denied a strong arc due to the script writers’ oversight.
Similarly, Prince Philip, King John, Conall, Bora, the troll alchemist, Lickspittle (Warwick Davis), the shape shifting Diaval (Sam Riley), the three fairy aunts — Thistlewit (Juno Temple), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton) and Flittle (Lesley Manville) — are all underused and wasted despite having their moments of onscreen glory.
Overall, Mistress of Evil never manages to justify the return of all its characters, but it does delve deeper into its fantasy world, and it keeps you engaged. (Agency)