Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

I’ll be honest: I have only seen Maleficent once, five years ago, when it first came out and I reviewed it here on the blog. I’ve watched Sleeping Beauty a few times since, and I guess that means I didn’t love it as much as I thought I did. That didn’t stop my excitement for the sequel, though. Angelina Jolie really was made to play this iconic role, who I have loved since childhood. She toggles between venerable victim and vengeful villain beautifully.

Angelina Jolie captures the essence of Maleficent

Humans are mostly horrible. And Maleficent has every right to become the Mistress of Evil with no need for a redemption arc. That’s the primary message I took away from the movie that was more Lord of the Rings than Disney classic, but let’s start at the beginning.

The movie opens with a trio of nefarious men, creeping through the forest. It transitions from this human darkness to the vibrant and colorful Moors, where Maleficent has made Aurora a barefoot, wildflower queen of the fairies (her human status notwithstanding). Five years after the events of the first film, Prince Philip wishes to marry Aurora, and Maleficent still can’t stand him.

And then, his parents invite them to dinner. Amusing hijinks ensue as Maleficent prepares to meet the parents, even though Philip’s entire kingdom is still apparently terrified of her. In the first twenty-ish minutes of the movie, I laughed quite a few times.

Michelle Pfieffer is a fierce and unyielding Ingrith

Once we meet Ingrith, Philip’s scheming, diabolical mother, the movie transforms into an epic fantasy war with destruction, desecration of lands, and plots of full-on genocide. These scenes take their time, slowly laboring through motivation, miscommunication, and historical context. Michelle Pfieffer kills it (literally) as the evil queen with the saccharine disposition. One of the highlights for me was her secret lair entrance, where she has to break a mannequin’s neck to open sesame.

Aurora doubts her godmother the first chance she gets, which sends Maleficent packing, swearing off the child she practically raised, leaving Ingrith take the helm. Elle Fanning’s Aurora gives me pause to question why I love the character as much as I do, because she feels very wishy washy between the human and magical worlds and it’s difficult to read her emotions.

Ell Fanning’s Aurora doesn’t quite know where to stand

The final battle is brutal and long with a confusing resolution, and I’m still not sure what happened to some of the characters. If you don’t think about it too hard, it’s a perfectly lovely ending, complete with some “make it pink, make it blue” references. And I still wish the three fairies were more like their animated counterparts.

Overall, I liked it. But if I learned anything from the last Maleficent movie, it’s that I will probably not watch it again (at least for many years). Much like Lord of the Rings, it’s slow and dark, and I just want to fill my world with joy.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, starring Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfieffer, and Elle Fanning opens in theaters Friday, October 18

I recommend the movie with caution. If you like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and other fantasy epics, you will probably enjoy this one. If you’re looking for something lighthearted and whimsical, you’ll be disappointed in nearly everything after the first 20 minutes. This movie has a PG rating, but I’m really glad I didn’t take my 8-year-old niece with me on this adventure. Because it is dark. So so so dark.

Are you excited to see Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil? Have you seen it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Maleficent Has Always Been My Favorite Villainess

While no one paid me to say nice things about this movie, I did have the opportunity to check it out earlier this week at no cost to me. All promotional pictures are used with permission from Disney to write about this film.

maleficent533ef68db974e (1)I’ve told you about my Maleficent obsession right? How I was this close to “meeting” the Disney World character version of her at the Halloween party, but we got in line too late? Or how I hunted down Maleficent pins when we were at Disney like nobody’s business?

Shop Maleficent Costumes, 2014's Favorite Villainess - Girls & Womens Costumes via Trendyhalloween.com

Well since the day they announced the Maleficent movie, I’ve been obsessing. Especially because it was scheduled to come out TODAY. My birthday. It’s like someone at Disney knew this movie was made for me. And because today is quite a busy day, I was lucky enough to go see it on Wednesday night for a pre-screening where they handed out Maleficent horns and offered photo ops. Because Disney is awesome and somehow I managed to make it on their list of movie-goers.

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Brian and I both really enjoyed Maleficent for what it was, a lighthearted, yet dark, re-telling of a classic tale. I read some of the critic’s reviews last night, which I thought were kind of laughable. No, this is not a “grown-up movie,” but grown-ups who like fantasy and adventure stories will love it.

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I haven’t been an Angelina fan for the majority of her career (I’ll admit, I totally dug Tomb Raider), but she rocked this character like no one else could. She was frightening, vulnerable, and lovable all at the same time. Even as a less-evil Maleficent, the character is still my favorite villain.

maleficent531f6917afb22Brad and Angelina’s tiny human, Vivienne Jolie Pitt, was absolutely adorable in her first role. I read a really lovely article in People the other day about how they didn’t want to get the kids into acting, but it was really hard to find a toddler who wasn’t terrified of Maleficent (note: if you have tiny humans, and cartoon Maleficent scares them…this may not be the movie for them. I’d go for date night, if I were you) so they brought in Vivi, who did a lovely job.

maleficent531f691a69a55Elle Fanning’s Aurora complemented Jolie well with her bright smile and curious nature. I especially enjoyed her interaction with the creatures of the Moor.

maleficent53487af5e016fI was less a fan of the three fairies and their purpose in this version than anything else. Their visibility in the movie was brief and seemed more comical and nonsensical than purposeful. The head fairy was played by Imelda Staunton (Delores Umbridge to Harry Potter fans), which was seemingly fitting…if they hadn’t completely overhauled the fairies’ involvement in the tale. They even changed the names, which baffled me.

maleficent536acd1fc2c53The plot also changes from the original telling, and definitely changes from the Disney animation, but the idea truly resonates with the direction that Disney seems to be heading and I enjoyed that a lot. Brian noted that it was a definite female-centric movie and he couldn’t find a male character to identify with, but that he still really liked it.

Disney's "Maleficent"..Ph: Film Still..?Disney 2014The scenery and sets were stunning. I wanted to be there, and thanks to the 3D glasses, it felt like I almost was. The critics will tell you that the 3D isn’t great, but I thought it was pretty decent. I hate the swoop-de-doo that most 3D movies start with, and this movie kept it on a level ground. I liked that a lot.

So if you’re into Disney, villains, action, adventure, princesses and fairies? Go see this movie. There really is something for everyone (over the age of 8-ish). With dragons, epic battles led by a FIERCE Maleficent, magic and adventure, you’re going to love it.

Of course I wore the horns on the 20 minute walk back to the train...and the 40 minute train ride.

Of course I wore the horns on the 20 minute walk back to the train…and the 40 minute train ride.

Are you planning to go see Maleficent? What other movies are coming out this summer that make your heart go pitter-patter?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!