Maleficent: Missed Opportunity

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Harris Dickinson

Rated M

The sequel to the 2014 original, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is an engaging, well-acted magical drama that underutilises its own main character.

Powerful fairy sorceress Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is torn between the fairy and human worlds as her human daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) prepares to marry Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson).

Fanning conveys effortless grace and nobility, and there are some engrossing parallels in Aurora and Maleficent’s respective journeys, as they approach cultures that are both familiar and alien to them.

Michelle Pfeiffer is Mistress of Evil’s stand-out performer, playing Phillip’s scheming mother Queen Ingrith with an elegant, calculating menace.

The film is well-paced, with Ingrith’s nefarious plans and the fairies’ desire for war steadily converging, and the final act is a harrowing battle sequence with a surprising amount of carnage for a Disney movie.

Unfortunately, Maleficent is sidelined amid this compelling magical intrigue, with very little to do until the climax. Aurora and Phillip have scant chemistry, and the plot’s links to the original Maleficent film (and the source Sleeping Beauty fairytale) are perfunctory and contrived.

While much of the art direction is beautiful, the film has a very gloomy colour palette, and the action is jumbled and hard to follow.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil builds effectively to a thrilling climax, but has some flimsy connecting elements and and the title mistress ends up marginalised.