Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” directed by the Norwegian director Joachim Rønning is the sequel to the first Maleficent film from 2014. Five years have passed since then and was it worth the wait? Personally, I don’t think so.

I had my hopes up when I went to the cinema to watch this 119 minutes long sequel, because I had really liked the Moors with all its magic creatures in the first film, I had liked how Maleficent was both the villain and the hero and I had especially liked the feministic twist concerning the true love’s kiss that woke up the sleeping beauty Aurora, Unfortunately, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” does not live up to its predecessor but remains a typical disappointing sequel. Most of the story takes place outside the Moor and as for feminism… it is more or less non-existent.

From the very beginning, it is evident that former feministic ideas have been abandoned, as things are back to the way they were before sleeping beauty woke up. Once again Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is feared and hated by everyone except for her sidekick Diaval (Sam Riley) and her ever so sweet and ever so lovely - and pink - god daughter, Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning).

The princess, who is now the queen of the Moors, is still in love with Prince Philip of Ulstead (Harris Dickinson), although he has changed a bit as he used to be played by Brenton Thwaites. Aurora seems to welcome this, as the two of them plan to get married, something that Maleficent strongly objects to. However, she agrees to attend a dinner party hosted by Philip’s parents, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), but the queen is out to kill Maleficent as she hates the Moor fairy folk.

Maleficent must flee as she is accused of putting a curse on the king who is now the male version of Sleeping Beauty, but there is no true love’s kiss to awaking him as the queen doesn’t love him. Escaping from the castle, Maleficent is rescued by the Dark Fae Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who takes her to an underground cavern. Here she finds out that she herself is a Dark Fae and that others like her and Conall have been forced to hide and nearly driven extinct by human oppression. Furthermore, Maleficent is the last descendant of the ancient and powerful Dark Fae Phoenix, whose remains she sees. They look a lot more like the skeleton of a pterodactyl than of the mythic bird that is reborn from ashes. In any case, it is a huge hint of what is going to happen to Maleficent later in the film!

With Maleficent as their secret weapon, the Dark Faes led by the aggressive Borra (Ed Skrein) now plan an attack on the humans on the wedding day of Aurora and Phillip while Queen Ingrith plans to kill all the Moor fairy folk who have come to attend the weeding.

I don’t think that any of the actors in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” comes across as remarkable except for perhaps Jenn Murray as Queen Ingrith’s helper Gerda, as she plays the part with overdramatic gestures and pathos. As for the plot, it is very predictable and so is the ending. And as said before, the feministic message from the first film is totally gone from the second, which I am far from the first film critic to notice. Sure, all the main roles are played by women, but in a “reversed” universe, where women act as men usually do in film and where the men have the traditional female roles of someone who must be rescued or won. This is not feminism, it is just reversed gender roles and besides, the strong, independent Maleficent is back to being a hated female, whereas the pink goody-two-shoed Aurora is the type of female that is shown love, and of course the biggest thing a girl can ever aspire to is once again to be married. To a man. It’s not good enough, Disney! Three out of five stars: ***


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