WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
A formidable queen causes a rift between Maleficent and Princess Aurora. Together, they must face new allies and enemies in a bid to protect the magical lands which they share.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil offers an explosive and fun take on a fairy tale. With strong leads and a budget that could fund a small country it delivers what I think I would have loved to see as a child. A little bit of whimsy mixed in with a solid dose of drama and excitement. It's like Game of Thrones and Sleeping Beauty morphed into one big family-friendly blockbuster.
That being said, it is far from perfect. The sequel's one criminal flaw? Focusing too much on the big bangs and not giving the two powerhouse leads enough time to really dig their teeth into their characters. And to make matters worse, when they do have a fair chunk of time on screen the CGI distracts from their talents instead of enhancing it.
The CGI is hard to ignore because it's Disney. These are the people that managed to make live lions speak and de-age Samuel L. Jackson (in the Marvel film, Captain Marvel). I feel like they could have maybe made some of the battle scenes, in particular, a little bit crisper. The explosions were a bit cheesy.
But then again that is the nature of this film, it's cheesier than a four-cheese pizza and that's ok because as I mentioned before, when I was a kid, I would have loved that. But now as an adult I did find myself struggling to focus at various points especially during the battle because it did drag on a bit. I would have preferred that time to be spent unpacking relationships. Instead we got longing glances between Maleficent (Angelina) and Aurora (Elle Fanning).
Elle, for her part, does well and shines even brighter than during the first film. She manages to convey the angst that her character is going through without being whiny when asserting herself in various scenes with the extradinarily camp character of Queen Ingrith played absorbingly by Michelle Pfeiffer. Playing the other half of the famous couple, in the role of Prince Philip, is Beach Rats star Harris Dickinson, who I have to say looks like a prince from a fairy tale. That's not to say I enjoyed every minute of his performance though, it felt slightly pained. Like he wasn't acting unsure of himself, he genuinely was unsure of the character and how the young prince should carry himself.
I think that the thing to remember about this Disney film is that it's meant to be enjoyed with a sense of childlike wonder and bemusement because if you go in and cynically predict the script (which is filled with tropes) and then roll your eyes at all of the jokes you will have missed the point.
The undeniable point of this film is to show that love is always the better option than war and that Angelina Jolie is who you want on your side in a war, to hold you safe in her big wings. How can you hate a message like that?