Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

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PLOT: When Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) becomes engaged to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), her Godmother, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) must deal with Phillip’s two-faced mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) who's bent on destroying all faeries…especially her future in-law.

REVIEW: MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL is the follow-up to MALEFICENT, a re-imagining of SLEEPING BEAUTY that beat toxic early buzz to become a box office winner for Disney, with many taking note at how expertly cast Angelina Jolie seemed to be in the title role. Thus, it’s not surprising that after a bit of behind-the-scenes juggling, which finds Joachim Rønning (one half of the pair who made KON-TIKI and the last PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) taking the helm for this slick, diverting, but altogether unexceptional sequel.

The film suffers from a few problems, specifically that, considering the first one told a relatively close-ended story, there’s no real compelling reason for this sequel to exist, beyond making money. Remember those DTV Disney sequels? This is like one of those, in that yes, you get to have your favorite characters return, but none of them do much. At least the production values are there.

The biggest problem of all is a curious lack of MALEFICENT. Despite playing the title character, Jolie disappears for long stretches of the film, which is disastrous as her performance is what makes the movie worth watching in the first place. People come to see these for her, but it feels like her availability this time around was limited. Most egregiously, she’s largely absent from the climactic battle, and half of the character’s screen time near the end finds her metamorphosed into a giant CGI creature that’s distinctly not Jolie.

That leaves us with Elle Fanning and Harris Dickinson (filling in for Brenton Thwaites) to lead the film, but neither is that compelling. Fanning is a wonderful actress, but she’s playing a simple heroine here that’s pure of heart, and the character isn't that interesting, at least not compared to Maleficent. Dickinson fares worse, with his Prince Phillip having laughably little to do, making a bit where someone congratulates him on his heroism in the climax unintentionally laughable.

The scene-stealer here is unarguably Sam Riley as Maleficent’s pet sparrow, who’s able to transform into human form, and is a pithy observer of the action. Riley has fun chewing the scenery. Michelle Pfeiffer also seems to be having a grand old time as the big bad here, the evil queen who wishes to destroy all faeries so that humans can rule the kingdom unencumbered. It’s a shame she and Jolie have so little screen time together, as their initial meeting is delicious. Chiwetel Ejiofor lends some gravitas as the leader of a rogue band of faeries, but his screentime is modest at best, while Ed Skrein at least has something resembling an arc as his second-in-command.

All these issues aside, MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL is decent enough, if thoroughly uninspired. At close to two hours, it’s longer and a touch draggier than the original, but it moves well enough that you won’t spend too much time glancing at your watch. It’s also PG(despite some faerie murder) meaning that it’s ok for the really young kiddies (although older kids will no doubt be wishing they were watching a Marvel movie). Still, it’s a shame the opportunity wasn’t taken to build on what was good about the first film and give us a unusually strong sequel, as there was room to grow. Too bad, but for what it is – it’s… fine.




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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.