“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” (2019)

Fantasy

Running time: 123 minutes

Written by: Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue

Directed by: Joachim Rønning

Featuring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Harris Dickinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein and Michelle Pfeiffer

Narrator: “Once upon a time, or perhaps twice upon a time, for you may already remember this story, there was a powerful Fey named Maleficent. For some reason, the mistress of evil and protector of the Moors was still hated after all this time. True, she had cursed the Princess Aurora. But that was before she found light in the heart of a human child and raised the girl as her own. After all, it was Maleficent’s love which broke that very same curse. But that detail was somehow mysteriously forgotten. For as the tale was told over and again throughout the kingdom, Maleficent became the villain once more.”

Critical Commentary

Released recently on 4K Blu-ray/DVD is the sequel to the live action remake of yet another Disney animated feature in the form of “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” (2019) which sees the return of the titular character in the form of Angelina Jolie who has been absent from big screens for over four years. This movie also marks one of five Disney remakes in 2019 which is an incredible proposition as they have all been successful to a lessor or greater degree which not only marks a nadir for this genre but it also speaks to the the power of the Disney marketing company and the lack of anything original in the theatrical space. How much you enjoy this movie will be dependant on a variety of factors some of which are related to each other, some are not which makes this a complicated evaluation.

What Disney and the makers of this sequel have attempted to do is to expand the Universe that all these characters inhabit by introducing the idea of a marriage for Aurora thereby giving her a future as well as introducing a new villain, I hesitate to use the word Trumpian but there it is and of course offering a backstory to the titular protagonist which overcomplicates the entire movie, sometimes asking more questions than its answers as well as overburdening a narrative that seems to create a third act that makes little sense even by fantasy movie standards. In fact by the time the obvious storyline becomes apparent it is possible audiences will have lost interest in what is actually occurring onscreen and when the Thord act begins with what must be the most boring CGI battle ever put to film the true lack of originality has made itself clear, not even the massively CGI Angelina Jolie can save the day, having lost whatever interest the character may have earned from the first movie.

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is set five years after the first movie and the death of King Stefan. Aurora has reigned as Queen of the Moors and Maleficent as its guardian and protector. The neighbouring kingdom of Ulstead deems Maleficent a villain, and while King John wishes for peace Queen Ingrith has been secretly preparing for war; in the hidden areas of the castle, workers make weapons and ammunition out of iron, deadly to all fairies. From here the plot and narrative moves along at a slow pace that sets out the story which is so mediocre that it could have come from any number of movies from any number of genres which is rather disappointing on the whole.

What was enjoyable about the first movie was that there was some genuine fun, happiness as well as surprise which is lacking here, even the population of the faerie kingdom look a little been there and done that. The addition of a entirely new species that all resemble Maleficent all seem underdone as does their backstory which seems light and not thought out very well at all which seems like a missed opportunity.

Obviously Angelina Jolie is the lead here but this is a movie that has a very large and in parts an impressive cast including Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville adding the mighty Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michelle Pfeiffer all doing their best but there is a caveat to all this talent, that is most of these actors are either doing their jobs in front of a green screen or completely by themselves, I believe this all is reflected onscreen. Sure there was a huge amount of CGI in the first movie but I could see the heart in that movie but here I feel like it is overloaded with the volume turned up to eleven, I get the indication on screen that many of these actors were not even in the same room together when scenes were filmed as well as there being a massive amount of dialogue over the top of the action recorded or re-recorded much later on, especially the scenes where Maleficent meets her long lost people.

For me the highlight of the movie is the casting of Michelle Pfeiffer who of late has made a comeback of sorts appearing in some high profile movies, always making an impact as well as in most being morally ambiguous which for any actor is a gift, there have been no black or white parts they have all been shades of grey.

Maybe oddly this is still a recommendation as it does follow on from the first movie quite well, if you enjoyed that you will probably enjoy this although it does feel inferior especially in the last act.

Technical Commentary

Disney delivers a two-disc set with a BD-66 4K Disc and the 1080p HD Blu-ray in a hard, black plastic case.

Video

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is released with a 2160p Ultra-HD presentation in HDR10. The upgraded color and detail look fantastic and is a noticeable uptick from the 1080p Blu-ray.

The first thing that’ll come to your attention will be the enhanced color spectrum. These colors are bold and well-balanced in each of the film’s darker settings. Colors of the green magical smoke or orange fire embers certainly stand out with varying shades of each respective color.

Audio

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is released with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and it sounds great. Like other Disney releases, you might have to adjust your volume a few notches higher to get the normal desired level, but once there, it’s a fuller and more robust sound experience than the Blu-ray’s 7.1 track.

Special Features

There are roughly 20 minutes of bonus features included on the Blu-ray. No extras appear on the 4K Disc. Nothing too much of note here other than some quick mentions of visual effects.

  • Origins of Fey (HD, 3 Mins.) – A short piece on the origins of Maleficent and her species.
  • Aurora’s Wedding (HD, 3 Mins.) – A brief look at the film’s big marriage scene that looks into the wardrobe, music, and more.
  • If You Had Wings (HD, 4 Mins.) – A look at the visual and practical effects of the wings in the film and how the complete the characters.
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil VFX Reel (HD, 2 Mins.) – Another all-too-short glimpse at the raw and finished visual effects of the film with some commentary.
  • Extended Scenes (HD, 4 Mins.) – Two short extended scenes.
  • Outtakes (HD, 2 Mins.) – Here is your standard montage of flubbed lines, missed cues, laughing and dancing from the set.
  • Music Video (HD, 3 Mins.) – Bebe Rexha performs “You Can’t Stop the Girl”.

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