'Maleficent' flies higher in sequel 'Mistress of Evil'

Michelle Pfeiffer joins Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning in 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,' a sequel to the 2014 alternate take on 'Sleeping Beauty.'

Posted: Oct 20, 2019 6:56 AM


"Maleficent" wasn't especially good, but it scared up enough money to conjure a sequel. Happily, this five-years-later follow-up, "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," flies a bit higher, building on the central relationship while adding Michelle Pfeiffer's regal presence as a killer queen.

The first "Maleficent" actually felt somewhat out of step with Disney's live-action movie strategy, offering a revisionist take -- unlike mostly dutiful remakes like "The Lion King" or "Aladdin" -- that transformed the dark fairy into the good gal, one who grew to love Aurora, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty.

Despite that ambition, it was a pretty lifeless affair, beyond the kick of seeing Angelina Jolie vamp it up in the title role, and the appealing notion (which also found a home in "Frozen") that "true love" -- the kind that can break a spell -- isn't merely the province of winsome maidens and handsome princes.

Opening six decades after the animated "Sleeping Beauty," "Mistress of Evil" picks up several years later, and begins with a very decent proposal -- namely, Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) asking Aurora (Elle Fanning) to live happily ever after with him. When he suggests they tell their parents, however, Aurora swallows hard at the thought.

Maleficent loves "Beastie," as she still calls her, but isn't so thrilled about her marrying a, well, human. Philip's mom, Queen Ingrith (Pfeiffer), is equally unenthused, producing one of those uncomfortable meet-the-in-laws dinners, bringing some welcome humor into the movie.

Things fall apart in pretty spectacular fashion, creating the prospect of war between the magical, fairy-filled Moors that Maleficent protects and the nearby kingdom of Ulstead. That leaves Aurora caught in the middle, at least, until the unseen hands manipulating the situation begin coming into view.

Director Joaquim Rønning has a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie under his belt (at this point, who doesn't?), and he's teamed here with original screenwriter Linda Woolverton as well as the tandem of Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue.

While there's clearly no interest in reinventing the spinning wheel, the movie layers on some visually appealing elements, including a new fairy society whose leader is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Inevitably, the climactic sequence rages on too long, and the resolution is, even by the genre's standards, a bit too quick and tidy. Nevertheless, there's hard-to-resist heart in the Maleficent-Aurora connection, which feels as if it's matured along with the latter character becoming a young woman, one capable of taking a more active role in the story.

As is so often the case, "Maleficent" didn't exactly cry out for another chapter, but if forced to do one with a sharp spindle pointed at your head (or finger), this is about as good as one could have hoped.

That doesn't translate into magic, but in terms of improving on the original, giving the stars some reasonably good material to play and delivering action within its PG parameters, "Mistress of Evil" pretty much threads the needle.

"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" opens Oct. 18 in the US. It's rated PG.

Terre Haute
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 43°
Robinson
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 40°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 47°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 48°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 53°
Brazil
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 43°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Weekend Showers
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1361569

Reported Deaths: 24671
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook54504110100
DuPage905031279
Will75456990
Lake67145988
Kane58349771
Winnebago33178474
Madison30500519
McHenry28573285
St. Clair27847513
Peoria23094310
Champaign20618145
Sangamon18724234
McLean18138179
Tazewell16938287
Rock Island14970314
Kankakee14176210
Kendall1303893
LaSalle12536243
Macon10750199
DeKalb9856119
Vermilion9628132
Adams8452123
Williamson7428129
Whiteside7160171
Boone669972
Ogle611181
Grundy588775
Clinton575790
Coles568695
Knox5553145
Jackson502464
Henry497066
Livingston481785
Stephenson475381
Woodford473976
Effingham472972
Macoupin469782
Marion4472115
Franklin444874
Monroe435793
Jefferson4291120
Lee416552
Randolph412984
Fulton391955
Morgan388981
Logan386958
Montgomery371974
Bureau371682
Christian365973
Fayette317455
Perry316960
Iroquois301866
McDonough284847
Jersey268949
Douglas258835
Saline256454
Lawrence240525
Shelby229537
Union226040
Crawford211626
Bond204824
Cass199125
Jo Daviess181024
Clark179933
Warren179746
Pike178852
Ford178246
Wayne177553
Hancock175931
Carroll175136
Richland175140
Edgar170239
White169626
Washington164525
Moultrie161028
De Witt150824
Mason150745
Piatt149714
Clay148143
Mercer146933
Johnson143915
Greene143633
Wabash134612
Massac133940
Cumberland129019
Menard123412
Jasper115018
Marshall106918
Hamilton83315
Schuyler7536
Brown7046
Pulaski6887
Stark63723
Edwards56912
Henderson52514
Calhoun5182
Putnam4823
Scott4781
Alexander46811
Gallatin4584
Hardin38612
Pope3204
Out of IL20
Unassigned02351

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 732692

Reported Deaths: 13450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1002531746
Lake53931975
Allen40779678
St. Joseph35838552
Hamilton35695408
Elkhart28695442
Tippecanoe22419219
Vanderburgh22332397
Porter18838309
Johnson18007379
Hendricks17269315
Clark13007191
Madison12708339
Vigo12470248
LaPorte11970212
Monroe11914170
Delaware10720186
Howard9946216
Kosciusko9438117
Hancock8310141
Bartholomew8078156
Warrick7789155
Floyd7672178
Grant7072174
Wayne7061199
Boone6712101
Morgan6593139
Dubois6162117
Marshall6073111
Cass5826105
Dearborn581878
Henry5758103
Noble562784
Jackson502773
Shelby493196
Lawrence4563120
Harrison436372
Gibson436092
DeKalb429285
Clinton427953
Montgomery425089
Whitley397139
Huntington392980
Steuben389457
Miami382267
Knox372690
Jasper368248
Putnam361660
Wabash354580
Adams341954
Ripley340170
Jefferson331281
White314854
Daviess298199
Wells291881
Decatur285492
Fayette281262
Greene279785
Posey271933
LaGrange267870
Scott266954
Clay260547
Washington241632
Randolph241181
Spencer232431
Jennings230449
Starke217154
Fountain213046
Sullivan212042
Owen201956
Jay196330
Fulton195540
Carroll189420
Orange184154
Perry183537
Rush173725
Vermillion169643
Franklin168435
Tipton163045
Parke146416
Blackford135132
Pike134934
Pulaski116945
Newton108134
Brown102441
Crawford100615
Benton98914
Martin89015
Warren82215
Switzerland7938
Union71010
Ohio57111
Unassigned0417