Director: Joachim Rønning
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Release Date: January 14, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” carries on the story of Disney’s most iconic villain. The years have been kind to Maleficent and Aurora. Their relationship, born of heartbreak, revenge and ultimately love, has flourished. Yet hatred between man and the fairies still exists. Aurora’s impending marriage to Prince Philip is cause for celebration as the wedding serves to unite the Kingdom of Ulstead and the neighboring Moors. But, when an unexpected encounter introduces a powerful new alliance, Maleficent and Aurora are pulled apart to opposing sides in a Great War, testing their loyalties and causing them to question whether they can truly be a family.
Disney’s untold story of the infamous animated villainess continues in ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ which sees Maleficent (Jolie) now living a happier life with the kind-hearted and now queen of the Moors Aurora (Fanning) at her side. After Aurora accepts a wedding proposal from her beloved Prince Phillip (Dickinson) and an introductory gathering of soon to be relatives at the Kingdom of Ulstead goes terribly wrong, Maleficent finds herself unfairly blamed and cast as the villain. Once again shunned and distrusted, Maleficent disappears while Aurora is unknowingly misguided by the lies carefully sowed by certain individuals in her fiancée’s kingdom with their own sinister agendas. But if Maleficent is to truly find her rightful place in this uncertain world filled with mistrust and deceit and reclaim what and whom she fears to have lost, she’ll first have to dive deep into herself, while also uncovering the truth and legacy of her kind.
Directed this time around by Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton (Maleficent), Micah Fitzerman-Blue (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) and Noah Harpster (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Rønning does a nice job altogether at the helm of ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ capturing the tone and heart of its predecessor while upping the ante in the action and magic department. The film’s cast features a number of returning individuals along with various newcomers to the series and includes Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Elle Fanning (Super 8), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange), Sam Riley (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Harris Dickinson (The Darkest Minds), Ed Skrein (Midway) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Ant-Man and the Wasp) along with more, the majority offering solid and capable enough performances for the most part in each of their respective roles; Jolie once more offering a layered, more relatable yet faithful portrayal of our title character that just seems to work.
‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ conjures an enjoyable follow-up to its 2014 predecessor that’s free to expand from the famous story it intertwined elements of last time around, while also answering some questions that it spawned such what kind of Fae Maleficent is exactly and why she looks so different from others in the Moors. It doesn’t always manage to hit its marks and occasionally finds itself stumbling to find its way while sending the story in various directions that don’t always intersect as smoothly as they should. Yet even so, it also has a lot going for it and in many ways I enjoyed it even more than the first film, partially due to its interesting approach at continuing the tale and the intriguing places it takes some of these familiar characters. If you enjoyed the first ‘Maleficent’ and found yourself caring for the characters within (or are a diehard Disney fan who can’t miss a release) or have any interest in this sequel already I would encourage giving it a shot whenever you have the chance. It may not be perfect or monumental, but it is a thoroughly entertaining, visually pleasing and fairly solid follow-up that allows the tale to go in its own direction, no longer tied down by its necessity to work with and around the tale of Sleeping Beauty. While some households with younger fans and hardcore Disney fans will surely want to pick up a copy of the Blu-ray release, for the more casual audience it’s likely to at least justify the price of a rental. If nothing else it shouldn’t have any trouble holding your attention for just shy of two hours and would also make a great family movie night selection.
Overall, ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ is a fun, fast paced and visually inviting sequel that may not be extraordinary but stays true to the heart of the first film while expanding the scope of the magical tale. ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ is recommended for fans of the first film as well fans of Angelina Jolie and of course dedicated Disney fanatics in general who should have quite a bit of fun with this entertaining and generally gorgeous sequel that continues the reworked, untold story of Maleficent and opens it up to a bigger surrounding world, stepping far beyond from where the tale of Sleeping Beauty left us. It may not be the most memorable Disney film in recent memory and does struggle at times, but still has no trouble providing enough magical fun and excitement to make it well worth the time of anyone that’s already looking forward to it in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and offers a sharp, clean and brightly colored presentation from start to finish. It holds up admirably even during the various darkly lit, heavily populated and fast moving sequences, always keeping things smooth and detailed and never allowing anything onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a more than capable high definition video presentation from Disney that should please the fans as well as first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack delivers a generally crisp, clean and fairly aggressive audio presentation throughout. It regularly takes advantage of all seven available channels in order to send action effects, plus flying characters, magic and nature content along with plenty more throughout the various speakers quite frequently (albeit seeming oddly more constrained than expected in a few instances), and never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible along the way. Overall, this is a pretty solid 7.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that may not be the most remarkable audio track in recent memory but definitely gets the job done capably enough while contributing plenty of extra fun to the viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ includes a number of brief, yet enjoyable extras. Included on the release are a couple of ‘Extended Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 4 minutes in length combined), in addition to ‘Outtakes’ (running approximately 2 minutes) and some Behind the Scenes Featurettes that include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Origins of the Fey’ (running approximately 3 minutes), ‘Aurora’s Wedding’ (approximately 2 minutes), ‘If You Had Wings’ (4 minutes) and a ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil VFX Reel’ (2 minutes). Also included is a Music Video for ‘’You Can’t Stop the Girl” performed by Bebe Rexha’ (approximately 3 minutes).