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.
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.
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.
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.
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.