Movie Spotlight: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a 2019 American dark fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Joachim Rønning, and written by Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster. It is a sequel to the 2014 film Maleficent, with Angelina Jolie returning to portray the title role. Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville also return to their previous roles, with Harris Dickinson replacing Brenton Thwaites from the first film and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, and Michelle Pfeiffer joining the cast as new characters.

After the release of the first film in May 2014, Jolie stated a sequel was possible. The project was officially announced the following June and Jolie signed on in April 2016. Rønning, who co-directed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) for Disney, was hired to direct the film in October 2017 and the rest of the cast was added or confirmed in May 2018, with filming beginning that month at Pinewood Studios in England, lasting through August.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was released in the United States on October 18, 2019, and has grossed over $157 million worldwide. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the performances of Jolie, Fanning, Ejiofor, and Pfeiffer, but criticism aimed at the “muddled plot and overly artificial visuals”.

Five years after the death of King Stefan, Aurora continues to reign as Queen of the Moors while Maleficent serves as its protector. Despite her heroic actions, Maleficent is deemed a villain by the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead, home to Prince Phillip. When Philip asks Aurora to marry him and she accepts, Diaval, having overheard the proposal, relays the news to Maleficent, who warns against the union. Aurora insists she and Phillip will prove her wrong before persuading her to attend an intimate dinner with Philip and his parents, King John and Queen Ingrith.

On the night of the dinner, Ingrith attempts to provoke Maleficent by giving her iron tableware, mentioning the sleeping curse she placed on Aurora and openly accusing her of killing two men last seen near the Moors. Maleficent attempts to keep her composure but loses her temper after Ingrith dismisses her relationship with Aurora, seemingly cursing King John into an eternal slumber. She then flees without Aurora, who refuses to believe her claims of innocence, but falls into the ocean after being wounded with an iron bullet fired by Ingrith’s servant, Gerda. At the last minute, a mysterious creature with wings similar to hers saves her life.

Maleficent wakes up in a series of underground caverns where she discovers a group of winged and horned fairies of her own kind, among them Conall, their peaceful leader who saved Maleficent, and Borra, a warlike fairy who strives for an open war with humans. Maleficent discovers that she is one of the last Dark Feys, a powerful species of fairies that are almost extinct because of human oppression. She is also told that her own bloodline ties directly to the Phoenix, an ancient and very powerful ancestor of the Dark Fey, and that is why she wields magic more powerful than the rest of her species. Both Conall and Borra believe that Maleficent is instrumental to end the conflict with humans, either by peace or war.

Meanwhile, in Ulstead, Aurora is disillusioned by her new life of a noblewoman but is happy that all of the Fair Folk from the Moors have been invited for her and Phillip’s wedding. On the wedding day, though, she discovers that Ingrith, out of her deep-seated hatred for them, has been secretly plotting to eradicate all of the fairies and woodland beings, forging iron weapons and inventing a crimson powder that can instantly kill them. It is also revealed it was Ingrith who cursed John with Maleficent’s old cursed spindle. As the Fair Folk gathers for the wedding ceremony in the castle’s chapel, they are trapped in and Gerda starts killing them with the powder, launched from the organ she plays. They are ultimately saved by Flittle’s selfless sacrifice, where ultimately, Knotgrass and Thistlewit cause Gerda to fall to her death.

At the same time, the Dark Feys launch an assault on Ulstead but are being massacred by the well-prepared soldiers until Maleficent, having channeled the power of the Phoenix, joins the battle. She nearly manages to kill Ingrith but is stopped by Aurora who appeals to her good nature, reassuring her that Maleficent is her mother. As the two reconcile, however, Maleficent saves Aurora from Ingrith’s arrow and dissolves into ashes. Ingrith proclaims herself victorious as Aurora weeps over the ashes. Maleficent is reborn in the form of the Phoenix.

Ingrith’s soldiers stand down, and the queen herself is transformed into a goat as punishment for her crimes. Phillip forges a peace pact with the fairies on the behalf of humans, Maleficent reverts back to her fairy form, gives Aurora and Phillip her blessing and breaks the curse on the spindle and spinning wheel altogether, awakening King John from his slumber. After the couple is wed, Maleficent flies away with a group of young Dark Feys, promising Philip and Aurora to come back for the christening of their child.

Critics Response:

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported the film holds an approval rating of 41% based on 178 reviews, with an average rating of 5.17/10. The site’s critics consensus reads: “While it’s far from cursed, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil too rarely supports its impressive cast and visuals with enough magical storytelling to justify its existence.”

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100 based on 40 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale, the same score as the first film, while those at PostTrak gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars and a 59% “definite recommend”

Find it in Theaters:

Lexington Exchange Movies 12

AMC Lexington Park 6

Flagship Premium Cinemas, Calvert Village

Xscape Theaters, Brandywine

AMC St. Charles Town Center 9


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