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October 21, 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) --- “Go Beyond The Fairy Tale.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     It’s been 5 years since we last saw Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Aurora (Elle Fanning) who is now Queen of the Moors, and their relationship - one born of revenge, heartbreak and ultimately love - has flourished. While the impending marriage between Aurora and Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), the future king of Ulstead, is meant to unite two worlds into a new era of peace, the hatred between the humans and the fairies is not so easily forgotten by some. When an unexpected encounter introduces a powerful new alliance, Maleficent and Aurora’s relationship is put to the test as they are pulled to different sides of a Great War that will change the lives of everyone around them, both human and fairy. Can this mother-daughter duo find their way back to each other before it’s too late?  
     Directed by Joachim Rønning (POTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales) and written by Linda Woolverton (Lion King, 2019), Noah Harpster (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), and Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood),  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) is an entertaining family fantasy film that surpasses its 2014 predecessor. Unlike other Disney films that did a reboot of the classic animated film, Maleficent delivers a well-known story with a unique and memorable twist that makes it its own. The first film follows themes of revenge and heartbreak, and how true love can develop in unexpected and powerful ways. This film focuses on some new themes such as Aurora falling in love and Maleficent having trouble accepting that new change. It explores the hatred between mankind and fairy in a new way and gives Maleficent the opportunity to discover more about her origins (which was in the trailers). There is a predictable plot twist in the form of revealing the story’s villain early on but since this is a family film that comes as no surprise. Plus it made for an interesting character arc because the audience gets to see the evilness of this new villain and just how far they're willing to go in order to eradicate an entire species. In that sense, the film does get surprisingly dark, and yet it still manages to add in moments of humor and emotion to help brighten up the atmosphere. The story’s message is that anyone can be good or bad, to not judge a book by its cover because villains can come in many different forms, and even villains can become heroes.
     The action sequences are much more grand and expansive than the last time, which made for more dramatic and lively battle scenes. In fact, the climactic battle scene takes place in broad daylight, which is something that is very rarely seen in films. The cinematography by Henry Braham (The Legend of Tarzan, Guardians of the Galaxy 2) is dazzling and beautiful and uses appropriate lighting to convey the tone of each scene. The costumes by Ellen Mirojnik (The Greatest Showman, Behind the Candelabra) are brighter and more colorful with details and styles that showcase the characters’ personalities.
     The cast were great in their performances. Angelina Jolie (By the Sea, Eternals) is perfect as Maleficent, who has taken on the role of mother to Aurora instead of simply being Godmother. Elle Fanning (A Rainy Day in New York) provides a more mature Aurora than the one we saw in the last film, she is not as naive as she once ones, especially when she learns some hidden truths. Sam Riley (Radioactive) as Diaval is given more screen time which allows him to be both cool and humorous. Michelle Pfeiffer (Ant-Man &  the Wasp) is one of the few actors I know of that can expertly play a villain with sneer and swagger that is hidden behind a regal facade, it kind of reminds me of her role as the witch Lamia in Stardust (2007). Harris Dickinson (Trust, Darkest Minds, The King’s Man) replaces Brenton Thwaites (POTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales) as Prince Phillip and he seems to be a better fit for the role. The chemistry between him and Fanning is a lot better than it was in the last film. New additions, Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Lion King) and Ed Skrein (Midway) were great in their respective roles that had completely different views about war with the humans. However, I do wish that they were given better character arcs and a chance to tell more of their backstory. Perhaps if there is a third film, we will get to delve more into their characters. The rest of the cast did great in their respective roles.
     Overall, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) is an entertaining and adventurous family fantasy that appeals more towards the adults then it does the kids. The plot explores more into the story that was established in the first film and gives the already established characters a better story arc. There are moments of humor and some bright scenes throughout but even the seemingly cheery scenes are overshadowed by a dark tone hidden in the background. The action sequences, cinematography, and costume designs have greatly improved since the last film. Not only is this an incredible sequel that easily surpasses the original film in every aspect but it is also one of Disney’s more unique live-adaptations films to date. I highly recommend this film, especially if your a fan of the series or you're looking for a different take on a Disney Princess film.

Final Vote --- 8.2 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Beauty and the Beast (2018)
Brave (2012)
Cinderella (2015)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Dark Shadows (2012)
Frozen (2013)
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016)
Into the Woods (2014)
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Maleficent (2014)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Tangled (2010)

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