Diminishing returns are often unavoidable…
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a pleasant enough affair but is a little past its prime and all unfolds in a fairly generic fashion.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil picks up several years after Maleficent, in which audiences learned of the events that hardened the heart of Disney’s most notorious villain and drove her to curse a baby Princess Aurora. The film continues to explore the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen as they form new alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within.
This is one of those movies that’s just impossible to talk about (well nearly) because Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is just a flashy but ultimately forgettable affair as 5 years was just too long between installments. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s really nothing right with it either.
Director Joachim Rønning is full ensconced in the studio system and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing it doesn’t allow for a lot of innovation. Sure the special effects are pretty solid and it’s a very good looking film but the narrative just takes a little too long to get where it needs to go and could have used some trimming out as we get a little too much of Maleficent’s origin story and a fair bit of unnecessary foreshadowing about who the good guys and who the bad guys are. There’s lots of ‘monologuing’ with the characters that never feels like it pays off. It’s all entertaining and nice to look at, but it doesn’t deliver anything genuinely memorable other than some half decent quips and safe action sequences. Sure there are a couple moments that tease some dread but we never really get any kind of payoff. It’s all just kind of there.
Angeline Jolie returns in the title role here for her first time in four years but she doesn’t get a whole hell of a lot to do here other then be misunderstood, grouchy and throw out the occasionally cutting quip. Elle Fanning seemingly has less to do as Aurora other then fawn over the concept of getting married to Prince Phillip. Michelle Pfeiffer tries to chew the scenery as the evil Queen but ends up taking herself a little too seriously while Sam Riley adds the occasion comic moment as Diaval. Otherwise new comers Ed Skrein and Chiwetel Ejiofor just don’t get a lot to do as members of the same species as Maleficent other then guide her around her home that she never knew about which looks a lot like Pandora from Avatar; thank goodness for the Disney/Fox merger.
Ultimately, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a fine enough of a diversion and will ultimately be enjoyed by all ages, you’ll just be hard pressed to remember it much after you’ve left the theatre.