Aurora, young Queen of the Moors (Elle Fanning) and Prince Phillip of Ulstead (Harris Dickinson) are in love. Phillip proposes marriage. “Yes! We’ll bring union and peace to the Moor and Ulstead!” exclaims Aurora. “But,” says Phillip, “we have to tell our parents.” “Do we have to?” says Aurora, because she knows her faery godmother, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), and Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) have serious issues. That’s the setup for “Maleficent; Mistress of Evil,” sequel to “Maleficent” (2014), the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” told from Maleficent’s point of view.
Can Aurora and Phillip’s love survive a war between Ulstead and the Moor? Who is more wicked — Maleficent or Ingrith? Which queen has placed a curse on Ulstead’s King John? Need answers? See “Maleficent Number Two.”
Angeline Jolie, cheekbones and horns, returns as Maleficent, whose transformation from “evil character to protagonist” — as screenwriter Linda Woolverton says — was 2014’s main theme. Here, however, her role is muddled, but still impressive and, when she’s on screen, compelling. Michelle Pfeiffer is Ingrith, the antagonist: described by critic Matt Zoller Seitz as “genocidal hatemonger” and “bloodthirsty bigot.” “Finally,” she says, when war breaks out between Ulstead and the magical creatures of the Moor, “the Moors will be mine! No more faeries!” Her son Phillip, played by Harris Dickinson, is appalled: “This is not my war,” he says. “It’s my mother’s!” Elle Fanning returns as beautiful Aurora, human Queen of the Moors.
Others in the large cast include Robert Lindsay as Ulstead’s good King John. Conall, Borra and Diaval, leaders of the dark-winged Fey — magical creatures driven underground by humans — are played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein and Sam Riley.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” directed by Joachim Ronning and written by Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, seems an odd addition to the Disney world. Not a love story, despite Aurora and Phillip, it’s mostly a war story — Queen Ingrith versus Maleficent, Mistress of Evil. And it’s (spoiler) a battle to the death. The war, which takes most of the film’s second hour, belongs better at the end of a Marvel superhero CGI flick. “This isn’t a war,” says Prince Phillip to his mother. “It’s a massacre.”
Rated PG for intense sequences of fantasy/action violence and scary images, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” runs a long 118 minutes. It’s Disney, but not a family-friendly film.
Here’s “Maleficent: Number Two,”
With a lesson for me and you:
Even if “Number One” is great,
“Number Two” can be a big mistake.