When we last saw the Mistress of Evil (which also happens to be the title for the sequel) she was more of a hero rather than a villain. However, the sequel sees her return to her previous status as the feared fairy that ruled the Moors. How quickly people forget her contributions. Though not traditionally scary, the film features plenty of magic and carnage courtesy of Jolie. Additionally, the film features the return of Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, and Harris Dickson as Aurora, Diaval, and Prince Philip. With the addition of Chiwetel Ejofor and Ed Skrein, as well as Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith, Philip’s mother, who gives Maleficent a run for her money for the title of Mistress of Evil. In the five years that have passed since then the original film, Aurora has continued to reign as Queen of the Moors and is beloved by her subjects, and especially by Prince Phillip, who works up the courage to propose marriage. Aurora accepts, but then comes the hard part: telling their parents. For Phillip the difficulty comes from her mother, who feels that their people have a right to pillage the Moors and worries about losing her son to Aurora, who rules the land she would like to acquire. For Aurora, the difficulty is much more challenging, as she has the unfortunate task of telling her godmother, the protector of the Moors, Maleficent. Though initially opposed to the idea, Maleficent grants her permission. However, this is only the beginning of their troubles.
At a formal dinner to celebrate the union, heated words lead to a declaration of war between the two kingdoms, as well as a curse. As a result, a rift is formed between Maleficent and Aurora, who sides with her new family. Adding to the situation, Maleficent suddenly learns that she is not alone in this world, as she discovers more like her and her origins.
My regret about this movie is that I did not take my daughter, as this film was quite clearly with her age bracket in mind. A magical war, winged creatures, and romance — I mean, that is like the Nalyce hat trick, though I could wait on that last one. Essentially what I am saying is that I was not the target audience for the film. Despite this, I was still able to find things to enjoy. There is plenty of lighthearted comedy, such as the exchange between Aurora and Maleficent when she breaks the news of her engagement. Additionally, I found myself impressed with how seamlessly the cast was able to step back into these characters after a five-year gap. It is as if no time has passed at all. The dynamic between Aurora and her fairy godmother, Maleficent, is still the core relationship of the film, and the chemistry between Jolie and Fanning is the film’s greatest strength. Granted that Phillip and Aurora’s love is meant to be true love, but like in the previous film, we learn that true love can take many forms. That idea still holds true for this film as well.
I would have liked to have seen more of a backstory regarding Maleficent and her Dark Fey origins. We get a basic understanding of what fabled creature she descends from, but a flashback or more emphasis put on how Maleficent differs from traditional Dark Fey and the reason why could have help build my understanding of Maleficent’s significance. I would have also liked to have seen Chitwetel Ejiofor play a more significant role, as I felt that he was underutilized. He appears on screen suddenly and builds intrigue, but his role felt all too brief. He had a clear vision for his people and the future, and I think more time should have been devoted to fleshing out these ideals.
The final battle scene is epic and evenly matched; in fact, I would say that the film was deliberately made with 3D in mind, as several scenes are exaggerated to give that right-in-your-face vibe. Fortunately, that does not take away from the action, which was obviously my favorite part. My hats off to Pfeffer, who was extraordinarily devious with her plans to bring down Maleficent, as well as capture the Moors for herself. Like I said, she very clearly gave Jolie a run for her money and proved to be a worthy adversary.
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 40-45 mbps. The high-definition image presentation is better than I expected. I was hoping to review the UHD version, and I can only imagine how much the HDR and heightened resolution brings to the release, because there is so much there even in HD. This is a colorful world, and those colors are quite vivid and atmospheric. Greens come through with particularly nuanced shading and brilliance. The red dust from the fairy bombs adds some texture and color to the mix. There’s a lot of CGI here, and it blends very well in the release. There aren’t many truly obvious moments of separation. Black levels are quite deep with nice shadow definition, and that brings alive the night scenes with the Fey, many of whom have dark wings and/or horns. The costumes add another level of brilliance along with some pretty fine textures that excel for HD standards. Did we ever think we’d be saying anything like that?
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is just as impressive. There is such a wide variety of creatures here, each with their own particular coos and vocalizations. All of that enjoys remarkable separation and offers an audio presentation that is very immersive in all fronts. The score cuts through dramatically when called for and allows some nice calmer moments to prevail, all without stepping on these amazing creature sounds and the dialog itself. It’s often a crowded soundscape, and I’m impressed how little one sound intruded on another. This is the kind of place where having that extra layer of speakers does add something to the overall experience, because there are so many things operating at once. It’s the sub ranges where I feel the film audio presentation doesn’t quite hold it together. The audio just doesn’t have the fullness of sound that all of this implies. With such nice separation, there’s not a lot of bottom of fullness to integrate it all into a meaty experience. So while there’s a lot to hear here, it doesn’t always come together as cohesively as I would have hoped.
Origins Of The Fey: (3:02) Jolie tells us what she believes is the back story for that race of creatures/characters.
Aurora‘s Wedding: (2:31) Fanning describes the wedding scene as if she were recalling her own wedding day, with a lot of giddiness and details about the dress and those kind of bride-orientated details.
If You Had Wings: (4:15) This feature takes us behind the scenes for the flight choreography. We get to see the actors in harness, and the feature demonstrates their movements in flight and how the actors get to control much of that movement.
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil VFX Reel: (2:11) We get to see a few scenes and look at the layers of F/X that created the final look.
Extended Scenes: (3:41) There are just two with a play-all option.
Outtakes: (1:55) Basically a blooper reel.
Music Video: (2:43) You Can’t Stop The Girl, performed by Bebe Rexha.
I’ve already had to resign myself to the fate of seeing the film again and again at my daughter’s request. Lucky for me, the experience was enjoyable the first time around, so the second shouldn’t be any different.
Parts of this review were written by Gino Sassani