Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Article excerpt

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is the sequel to the 2014 film Maleficent, and it will certainly come as a relief to all those who, in the interim, have been worried that Disney might let a potential franchise go unexploited. Did that keep you awake at night, as it did me? Well, now we can all sleep easy, knowing that the sequel no one was clamouring for (yet may still make a ton of money even though it’s crap) is finally here. Phew.

So, once upon a second time, Angelina Jolie reprises her role as the evil fairy in the giant horn wig who cursed Sleeping Beauty. The first film was, in effect, an origins story. It wasn’t an especially good origins story, but at least it had a point, as it asked: how did Maleficent become so dark and wicked and twisted. Whereas this time out? We don’t appear to be asking much of anything.

Directed by Joachim Ronning, the film opens by flying us over the Moors, the enchanted forest kingdom ruled by Maleficent. A voiceover tells us that she is ‘still hated’ even though, by the end of the first film, she’d become a total mensch. She’d reversed the curse on Sleeping Beauty, aka Princess Aurora, with the love she had learned to feel for her, then treated her like a daughter. And as motherhood equals fulfillment, presumably, she just didn’t feel the need to be dark, wicked and twisted any more. But all that, continues the voiceover, has been ‘completely forgotten’. Handy, I suppose, if we’re meant to hate her again. And the film doesn’t want to do any of that work itself. …

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