Movie Review: "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil"
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Aurora (Elle Fanning) is getting married! Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) has proposed, and his parents have invited Aurora and her mother for dinner, so that they can finally meet the woman who raised Aurora. Unfortunately, Aurora’s godmother is none other than the feared Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). Word has spread, far and wide, about the curse that Maleficent placed on Aurora when she was young, but little know that Maleficent was the one who would go on to break that curse.
Many know the power that Maleficent possesses and many know her for her fury. She is the feared the guardian of the Moors, the place in which many fairies call home. Maleficent is protective of the Moors, and is vengeful toward anyone who brings harm to the place, or the creatures in it, but there is one thing that Maleficent cares about even more than the Moors. Maleficent loves Aurora as if she was her own child, and she will not let Prince Philip’s mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) sink her human teeth into Aurora.
The Pros & Cons
The Mothers (+3pts)
Queen Ingrith (-5pts)
Bad Maleficent (+4pts)
Good Maleficent (-5pts)
Aurora & The Moors (+4pts)
The Fae (-4pts)
Pro: The Mothers (+3pts)
This movie was at its best when it was focused on the rivalry between the two mothers. Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a human who is allergic to flowers, she hates fairies, and she thinks they are lesser creatures. Maleficent hates ignorant and selfish humans, and thinks most humans are both of those things. She thinks humans care only for themselves, she thinks they are conniving, and she has a bad history with humans that supports her belief.
My point is, these two mothers dislike each other immensely, and that is before they ever meet. Their meeting had a lot of racial tension, but both did their best to be civil. The two actresses played their relationship really well. Their meeting was comical, their meeting was tense, and their rivalry throughout the movie was interesting. The movie was at its best when these two characters were on screen together. Unfortunately, however, that did not happen as much as I would have liked.
Con: Queen Ingrith (-5pts)
This character was just really one-dimensional. You meet the character, and you instantly know everything you need to know about her. Her character was predictable, she was evil for the sake of being evil, and the character was very obviously the antagonist, even when the filmmakers were trying to hide that very obvious fact. The filmmakers never even attempted to give this character any depth.
She was severely underdeveloped and the filmmakers went in a very predictable direction with her. Giving her any sort of character arc would have gone a long way toward making hers a compelling story. Instead, the filmmakers just wanted a typical, one-dimensional antagonist, and that is what they delivered. The unfortunate side effect, is that the plot of this movie ended up feeling just as typical and one-dimensional. A story is only as good as its villain, and this villain was poorly written.
Pro: Bad Maleficent (+4pts)
In the classic version of this story, Maleficent is undeniably the villain. In this live-action version of the story, Maleficent does bad things, but is not all bad. She is constantly conflicted, as she has things that she cares about passionately, and delivers a dark vengeance to anyone who wishes to harm the things that she cares about. Throughout this movie, she is constantly fighting her furious instinct, but whenever it got out, it was really cool to watch.
This character is immensely powerful, so when the filmmakers were not holding her back to drive the plot forward (I will get into that next), this character was a badass. Her rage was satisfying when she was exacting vengeance, and I liked the fear that the humans felt toward her. She was powerful, and every character in this movie knew it. She only got to use that power when her bad side got out, and the filmmakers did not let it loose very often, but it was satisfying when they did.
Con: Good Maleficent (-5pts)
So Maleficent has a furious rage, which —coupled with her powers — makes her really effective as an antagonist. However, the character is a protagonist in these movies, yet has been established as being more powerful than really anything else. In the last movie, Maleficent was conflicted. She was not clearly a protagonist, so her being so powerful did not cause any problems. That was not the case for this movie.
In this movie, Maleficent was a clear protagonist, so her immense power put the filmmakers in a tough spot. They needed to show her as being powerful, as they have already established that she was, but they did not want her to be so powerful that she would be able to deal with the antagonist with ease. Rather than make the antagonist outsmart Maleficent throughout the movie, the filmmakers' solution was to dial Maleficent’s power up and down whenever it was convenient for them. I understand the dilemma that the filmmakers found themselves in, but they could have handled it better.
Pro: Aurora & The Moors (+4pts)
Aurora was fine as a character, and Elle Fanning did a decent enough job in the role, as well. There was nothing special about the character or the performance, but the character worked decently enough. The Moors, the land in which Aurora serves as Queen, were also moderately entertaining. The creatures were interesting, although I especially liked the little porcupine creature, and I liked seeing how all of these creatures lived together peacefully. My only complaint here was that I would have liked to have seen their community in contrast to humanity as a whole, rather than just focusing on their community in contrast to Queen Ingrith. Neither Aurora nor The Moors will blow you away, or even be very memorable, but they were entertaining enough while they were on screen.
Con: The Fae (-4pts)
This was an aspect of the story that I could have done without. The characters were cool, and their culture was interesting, but it was really just a distraction from the main story. These characters contributed absolutely nothing to the main story. Do not get me wrong, however, there was potential here.
The filmmakers set these characters up, and could have done something really interesting with them. Specifically, they could have done something really interesting with the two characters played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein (regarding their difference of opinion on how to deal with the human problem, as well as their great respect for one another), but that did not happen. Instead, the filmmakers setup these characters and their culture, then just kind of dropped the whole thing. They contributed absolutely nothing to the climax of the story, and the filmmakers completely dropped the ball with the interesting dynamic they had setup between the two main Fae characters (the ones played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein). Again, the potential was there for these characters to be more effective, but the filmmakers failed to use them properly.
Grade: C- (72pts)
The last movie was nothing exceptional, but it was moderately entertaining, so my expectations were for something similar here. I then was not very surprised to find that the filmmakers delivered just that. Maleficent is a powerful, intimidating presence. She is most captivating when she is allowed to showcase her power and her fury, but the filmmakers did not let her do that much in this movie. She was a clear protagonist in this film and, rather than have the antagonist outsmart the protagonist throughout the movie, the filmmakers chose to dial Maleficent's power up and down whenever it was convenient for them.
Elle Fanning as Aurora was fine, and some of the creatures that lived in The Moors were entertaining, but they were moderately entertaining at best. The film was at its absolute best when Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer were on screen together, as the rivalry between these two characters was pretty entertaining, but they were not on screen together very often. On top of that, Michelle Pfeiffer's character was very predictable and one-dimensional, and The Fae were a group of characters that were setup well, but were ultimately used poorly by the end of the movie. This movie had potential, but the filmmakers failed in its execution. Fortunately, my expectations for this one were not very high, so I was not exactly disappointed. It was a movie that was exactly what I expected it to be, as it was moderately entertaining when it was on, but was ultimately nothing special.