Maleficent: Mistress of Evil movie poster

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

In theaters October 18, 2019

Rated

,

118 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , ,

In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in the Once Upon A Time, Time has moved on and Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), is now Queen of the Moors, a magical land bordering on human kingdoms, as decreed by her fairy Godmother, the sometimes evil and dangerously protective Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). Aurora is a kind, if naïve queen, wanting only the best for her subjects, believing that peace can be brokered between all kingdoms, even if she is without a human kingdom of her own. She’s offered that opportunity when longtime crush Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) asks her to marry him. Believing this union will bridge the divide between human and fae, she accepts an invitation to dinner, on behalf of herself and Maleficent, setting the stage for betrayal, exile, death, and reclamation.

Yeah, that’s pretty vague. But we’re dealing with a backstory that contains a backstory, with a fair amount of backstabbing to boot, and I don’t feel like explaining all of the fun parts.

Also in the Once Upon A Time, human ambition seems to be the lynchpin of all destruction, and here, it’s embodied by Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). Ingrith has a huge problem with the fae and basically everything they represent, and her desire to run and ruin everything is the catalyst for everything bad that happens. Her hatred for the magical folk leads her down the dark path of petty tyranny and torture so often prevalent in fantasy small-minded monarchs. We have a subplot of fae poaching, fairycide, and the kind of speciesism so often virulent in Disney movies as well as a strong backbone of powerful women who will turn this kingdom right around and burn it to the ground.

This is a gorgeous fantasy, and it’s no wonder Maleficent is such a popular costume. Even as all sharp angles and dark clothing, Angelina Jolie embodies grace and dangerous beauty, while still possessing a vulnerable side brought on by years of betrayal and mistrust. There isn’t a single character or outfit not coveted by cosplayers the world over. The Moors are lush, the Castle is opulent, and no character suffers from the one-note, barely 2-dimensional toss-away curse of the secondary characters, not even the airy-headed aunties, Thistlewit (Juno Temple), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), and Flittle (Lesley Manville) – which are weirdly, yet charmingly animated with facial capture technology. I found the dialogue clever and funny and not watered down or pandering to a younger crowd. This is PG movie, but it doesn’t feel like a deliberate PG movie.

It’s dark, like way dark, and if you didn’t think your little was prepared for the 2014 Maleficent, I can’t say they’re ready for this one either. I mean, if you want to explain how fairies die and why beautiful queens stab their loved ones, and why anyone would want to poison butterflies, well that’s on you. Enjoy soothing those nightmares.

This is not to say that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn’t take some strange lefts and for a time abducts the audience well away from humans to find another fairy faction preparing for war. However, this is a fairy tale, and a fairly smart one, weaving the familiar folklore with modern intrigue. If you’re thinking too hard about the hows and whys, there has to be something less-fun playing just for you. I had a great time pretending this was very real and very threatening and losing myself in a fairy tale that was as dark as I remembered from my youth. True love is still the strongest magic and protective mothers are dangerous creatures.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is rated PG for fairy abduction, fairy murder, people getting stabbed, people getting eaten by magical creatures, people getting blown up by magical creatures, fairies getting poisoned. Disney calls it a Tuesday.

Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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