Angelina Jolie returns in this bold and visually spectacular sequel. Aurora (Elle Fanning) wants to get married to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) and godmother Maleficent (Jolie) isn’t keen. She’s seen the evils humans can do and she wants to protect her goddaughter from that. But Aurora is determined and manages to persuade Maleficent to join her at the palace to meet her new in-laws – a meeting that inevitably goes horrendously wrong as these two warring sides are forced to dine together.
What follows is a bright and action-packed ‘us and them’ adventure that explores the complexity of finding somewhere you belong and also looks closely at the consequences of spreading hate and promoting fear. Because within these two conflicting sides, there are many who want peace and unity, including Aurora and her prince who are so hopeful that their union will bring everyone together. But just because the majority want peace, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a few hidden within who will accept nothing less than all-out war.
Though the issues in the film might seem a little too on-the-nose, there is so much magic and wonder here that it is largely still a fun and delightful film experience. The effects seamlessly blend in with the practical world and all the forest creatures are utterly enchanting. Jolie is deliciously layered as Maleficent, bringing the immense power, the awkwardness and sweetness, and the vulnerability needed for the titular role – and she has great support from Fanning and Sam Riley as Maleficent’s confidante, Diaval. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein are also welcome additions to the mix, bringing great depth to incredibly fascinating characters with a new edge viewers might not be expecting.
Unfortunately, the big showdown sequence goes on way too long, given the actual genocide taking place. It’s not like Disney shies away from death usually but this just doesn’t fit with the tone of the piece like it usually does. Visually, it’s still spectacular – director Joachim Rønning certainly knows how to put on a show – but it doesn’t need to go on nearly as long as it does.
All in all, Maleficent is a really eye-catching piece of cinema with a great central message around tolerance and fear. It’s great fun and there’s even a little nod in there to the brilliant fairy trio from the animated original for those who grew up watching Sleeping Beauty.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is on general release from Friday 18th of October