Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (PG, 118 Minutes)
“Don’t ruin my morning” is the signature tagline pushed to the forefront of Joachim Rønning’s sequel to the softly popular retelling of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
Well, the film certainly didn’t ruin my morning (because I watched it in the afternoon), but it did provide me with an example of good actors working with an incredibly lacklustre script.
From the get-go, we catch up with sleepyhead Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) and her weirdly maternal relationship with dark sorceress Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), who not many moons ago cursed the poor girl with endless slumber before dramatically changing her mind in an interesting spin from the 1958 classic animation.
In this follow-up, Aurora and dry dreamboat Philip (Harris Dickinson) are engaged to be wed and in a move not too dissimilar to Meet the Fockers, decide to introduce Maleficent to the prince’s morally questionable parents, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) and King John (Robert Lindsay) who harbour the same feelings about fairies as Trump does immigrants.
Things kick off and the “villainess” must rally her friends together to save the woodlands (or ‘moors’) from Ingrith’s wrath.
I’ll keep it simple: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is poor. The actors do the best they can with the material they have, but it’s like putting icing on a burnt cake.
Jolie and Fanning try their best to give performances good enough to convince us that this orphan princess forgives and loves the woman responsible for dumping random spinning wheels in her castle and having a sneaky love affair with her crazy dad before killing him enough to call her ‘mother’.
It’s tight, but their talent prevails. Pfeiffer’s accent is hard to pin down. Villainy isn’t hard for her to pull off, but there’s a lack of intense threat from her. As a monarch hell bent on ethnic cleansing, we should fear her. We don’t.
A rather tiring event with enough headache-inducing CGI to make your eyes roll along with a contradictory title.