Maleficent: Mistress of Evil movie review — Angelina Jolie struggles to cut through a Disney sequel no one needed
Malificent sequel shows It is time for the studio to pull its socks up, and take some creative risks because the box office streak is not going to last forever.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is yet another film that goes into the folder titled ‘sequels no one needed’. It follows the expected path of being a less than spectacular follow-up to an already ordinary original film. If you are a die hard fan of the first film, by all means, do give this one a shot. Everyone else is better off watching the other film out in theaters this weekend.
The lesser you know about the story the better, because this is a film that is incredibly thin on premise and super heavy on atmospherics and scenery-chewing performances. Angelina Jolie once again returns as the titular Maleficent, this time up against an even darker nemesis, and tied to the fate of two young star-crossed lovers. If you are looking for twists and turns, you will need to look elsewhere because part two remains as simplistic as the first film, with no real effort made towards delivering any element of surprise to the audience.
Oddly, this is a dull film despite its attempts to look magical and sweeping, and even though it tries to cram in half a dozen plot points for what looks like the sake of variety. There are interesting ideas embedded in this dull film, but those ideas never rise about the glut of CGI being constantly lobbed at us. Every time the film offers an interesting visual motif, or a character dynamic, it is suppressed by tedious dialogue, or soap opera-style drama – all lathered with the thick goo of overwrought visual effects. In other moments, the big ideas like undertones of commentary on immigrants or mass extermination is handled without a solid baseline application. They also seem positioned awkwardly given this is a film that kids would be watching.
Jolie still remains the most interesting element in the film, her high cheekbones continuing to cut through the frost, particularly during the moments where she is up against Michelle Pfeiffer’s icy queen. Pfeiffer is, in fact, far more effective as the sinister baddie here, despite woefully written dialogue and a cartoon-ish backstory. The rest of the supporting cast, including a bunch of familiar names, are all the standard issue placeholders that you expect in a genre like this. The convoluted nature of the plot does not give the vast cast a chance to focus on grabbing our attention.
Where the film truly excels is the production design and the showy direction by Joachim Rønning, who has showcased this particular skill set in earlier films such as the Oscar-nominated Kon Tiki. It is, however, pertinent to acknowledge the fact that all the Disney fairytale extravaganzas look similar in tone and form. It is time for the studio to pull its socks up, and take some creative risks because the box office streak is not going to last forever. No doubt, this is a strange franchise that somehow caught eyeballs five years ago. But the fairy dust has worn off, and the unexpected charm has given way to a piece of disposable product, as opposed to a film you can cherish.
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