Sunday, January 12, 2020

Video review: "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil"

I’m not sure if we needed another “Maleficent” movie with Angelina Jolie dolled up in demoness makeup and ebony wings. But the truth is the sequel, undertitled as “Mistress of Evil,” is actually an improvement on the original from five years ago.

If you’ll recall they took the villainess from “Sleeping Beauty” and turned her into the star of the show. Here she’s a misunderstood figure, the queen of the Moors, the land where fairies and other oddball creatures live, protected from malevolent human hands by her magic. Aurora (Elle Fanning), aka Sleeping Beauty, is still here and no longer sleeping, and in fact as the story opens she’s about to marry some slack-jawed excuse of a prince.

That means meeting his parents, and it turns out the groom’s mother is Ingrith, queen of the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead. She’s got a major jones for fairy-hate, so pretty soon Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) has managed to stoke inter-family resentments and started a war between their countries.

A side plot involves the discovery that Maleficent isn’t a unique creature, but part of a lost race called dark fey. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays their benevolent leader, while Ed Skrein is the young upstart with just as much bloodlust as the humans.

Despite the dour setting, there’s actually plenty of humor and light moments in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” which leads to a more enjoyable picture. I don’t know if I’d call it magic, but sequels that surpass the originals is a rare trick indeed.

Bonus features are pretty decent. They include outtakes from the set, two extended scenes and a music video by Bebe Rexha, “You Can’t Stop The Girl.” There are also four making-of documentary shorts: “Origins of Fey,” “Aurora’s Wedding,” “If You Had Wings” and a visual effects reel.



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