In 2014, Angelina Jolie did her job and actually convinced me that Maleficent’s was a story worth telling. I found the twists and creative story-line intriguing and it truly did hold my attention more than I expected. Fast forward to 2019 and here we are being introduced to a continuation of the story, a new chapter in the Disney Villain’s misinterpreted life. My immediate thought when I heard Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was being filmed was, “Do we really NEED another chapter?” Yes – I was the skeptic, but I figured Jolie had been able to alter my opinion the first time. Perhaps she would have the ability to alter it again. So ~ was she successful? Did she convince me that Maleficent deserved a sequel? Here’s my absolutely honest Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review.
I was invited as media to attend a screening of the film. The opinions expressed are 100% mine and mine alone. This post does contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review
The 2014 film brought us twists we never expected, but came to appreciate. Who would have thought the original “dragon lady” could love a child that much? Who knew her story could have so many empathetic strings attached? I confess, I’m not a huge Jolie fan in general, but I believe in giving people the chance to convince me otherwise. Besides, I wanted to see the film out of my fascination for Disney villains (and background stories. I am a geek for the misunderstood). I honestly went in with the hope and anticipation that Jolie could convince me ~ and that, she did.
In the new chapter, we witness how the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora has grown over the years. Of course, what does that mean? It means that it’s about time that bond be tested. In that day, there were those who sought peace between the Moors and the people of Ulstead, while there were others who sought to destroy the “other kind.” In the middle of the burning embers of growing hatred, a much anticipated wedding was being planned between Aurora and Prince Philip. Sadly, that created the perfect scenario for those with evil intentions. Tensions arose between lands and families and that rage ultimately fueled a war that came at a cost.
My initial reaction to the trailer…
It’s been no secret that the initial trailer brought the skeptic back out of me. If you follow me on Facebook, I’ve been pretty clear on that. I mean, I haven’t been able to reconcile why we needed another Maleficent movie. The story was perfect as is – what could they do with it to keep us equally engaging?
I confess, however, that subsequent trailers slowly piqued my interest. While I chose to reserve final judgement until seeing the film in its entirety, I was open to the possibility of appreciating the sequel more than I anticipated.
Well, after finally having opportunity to screen the movie, I am honestly still left in a bit of a quandary ~ did I like it or didn’t I? Was it worth giving this script life? Hmmm…..maybe blurting all my thoughts here will help me hash out how I really feel about what I witnessed.
So, what did I like about the film?
While I willingly admit to still holding some reservations, I did find many scenes that made me smile and laugh and keep me magnetically engaged. For one, the imagery was stunning ~ so many colors, so much variety. The CGI was spectacular and it truly felt as if we been transported to both a distant kingdom and a land full of fairies. There were many times, perhaps because of the theater in which we saw it, that I felt like we were soaring through the air right alongside the Fey.
I also loved how the movie focused on complex family relationships ~ something certainly not foreign to any generation. Whether mother/daughter, father/son, mother/son or future in-laws, the movie did a great job at diving into trust, loyalty and unconditional love. We saw unexpected alliances and new versions of darkness weave their way into the story and watching that unfold held my attention well enough throughout the film.
Speaking of new versions of darkness, Michelle Pfieffer was incomparably beautiful in her role as Queen Ingrith. It was obvious from the beginning where her heart was, but it was captivating to see where it took her ~ and us. Her portrayal was honestly the standout performance in the film.
**Looking for Maleficent printables? Check these out: Maleficent Coloring Pages and Activity Sheets!
What didn’t I like about the film?
Here we go ~ the part I absolutely hate writing in a review. This one more so because, well ~ it wasn’t terrible and I didn’t hate the movie. I just simply found too many questions left unanswered or too many things seemingly far-fetched. I guess there were a few too many moments where I was like, “What? Why? How?” ~ and, for me, that takes away from my being able to get too excited…especially when answers aren’t there to satisfy those questions.
Now, let’s talk Jolie for a second. In the first film, she actually wowed me. I loved her portrayal of the infamous evil fairy and so much appreciated the background story Disney gave her in that film. She convinced me that the story needed to be told. Now, in THIS particular film? While she was still good and very consistent in the role, I wasn’t mesmerized by her performance. As noted above, Michelle Pfieffer stole that from her and I just found Jolie successful, but not spectacular.
Sorry ~ I know others don’t agree. I mean, I didn’t “hate” or “dislike” her performance……I just wasn’t as infatuated with it as I was the first time around. She set a high standard for herself with that first movie.
**Check out my friend Tessa’s review and see how it differs from mine!
Oh, and one more piece I could not get myself to enjoy – the role of Gerda, played by Jenn Murray. I’m all for women taking on roles showing tremendous strength and agility, but this one? There were way too many things about it that annoyed the heck out of me. Again, probably not a popular opinion….but when you see the church scene, you should at least understand what I’m talking about.
Would I recommend?
Ya know, this one is a toughy. I want to say “yes” because it is an interesting story and you will find yourself connecting with some of the fundamental themes fairly easily. At the same time, if you’re a Disney Villain purist, I wonder if you might find yourself a little frustrated. They take the story in an interesting direction, creating characters and twists we never expected. While I find that fascinating, some (like me) may find those twists…well, a little TOO creative at times.
What do you need to know…
There is violence. Some are saying it is more violent than the first. I can see what they’re saying ~ there is a lot more loss in this film. I mean, let’s cut to it. The film is primarily about a war between two lands. However, after hearing all the talk about it being “more violent”, I just didn’t see it as gruesome as I had anticipated. Sure, it’s violent – yes….but you won’t see anything that will make you turn our head. There are no severed appendages, decapitations or gore. There is, however, a feeling of “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good….” hidden in there (my 13 year old son’s generous contribution to the review).
The movie is darker than the first. There is a lot more anger, hatred and bitterness played out on screen. There is tension between familial relationships, which may be difficult for some children to see. It is definitely not your standard Disney fairy tale, which seems to be the way Disney is going these days. While I can appreciate the new perspective, we do need to keep this in mind.
While there is no profanity in the film (I know, right?), there is some kissing and some really tight embracing. Nothing at which the general public would flinch, but some like to at least know it’s there in the film for their littles.
Now, speaking of littles ~
Parents – you are going to want to think before taking them. Because of the violence, the tension between relationships and the very prominent task of waging war in the story, it may not be suitable for those under perhaps the age of ten. However, you know your child better than anyone else. You know what they can handle, what triggers them and more. I will say this – if they were able to handle Avengers: Endgame, they should be well enough adjusted to handle this one. Just know that, as noted above, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is not your average Disney fairy tale.
Except the ending, of course…..but that’s all I’ll say about that (wink, wink).
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Opens October 18th
So – there you have it – my Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review. Now, after sharing all that, here is how I REALLY feel about the film. I actually did LIKE the movie. It was worth my time and I was engaged with the story throughout. However, there were just a few too many moments and ideas played out that kept me from being able to say I “LOVED” it. Gotta be honest, right? It’s not terrible or gruesome. It has a good story to tell. I very much enjoyed the somewhat realistic view of how it feels to meet the in-laws for the first time. It – just – didn’t – “wow” – me.
But that’s just my opinion……what’s yours? Are you planning on seeing the movie when it arrives in theaters October 18th? Have you seen an early screening? Did my Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review encourage you to go see it to see if you agree? I’d be very curious to hear what you think.
Did you enjoy my review of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil? If so, check out some of the others:
**All movie photos courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
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