- 22 Oct 19
Blockbuster fantasy sequel proves patchy
Angelina Jolie’s casting as Maleficent was always inspired, harnessing Jolie’s unique persona as both darkly mysterious sex symbol and loving earth mother. These she channelled into a modern portrayal of Disney’s fanged-but-misunderstood, not-so-evil fairy godmother. In the 2014 film, her performance was sharp-cheekboned perfection. However, the script lacked compelling action, keeping Maleficent’s wings clipped.
As Aurora (Elle Fanning) prepares to marry Prince Phillip, Maleficent has to grapple not only with the idea of losing Aurora – but also of losing her to a monarchy that’s been secretly killing fairies on her beloved moors. Aurora, swept up in pre-wedding bliss, ignores that Maleficent’s suspicions have merit – particularly in relation to Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). An awkward dinner becomes a gloriously tense tennis-match between Jolie’s mercurial, protective Maleficent and Pfeiffer’s passive-aggressive mother-in-law.
Ingrith does indeed have nefarious schemes afoot, deliberately creating a rift between Maleficent and Aurora. In her isolation, Maleficent finds a tribe of creatures that offer her the family and belonging she has never had – but in return, she must help them wage war on her surrogate daughter’s new kingdom.
The themes of found family, corruption, and staying true to yourself in the face of power all fuel the action, which results in an epic, surprisingly dark showdown.
However, the narrative evolution around the characters disappoints, so they remain quite dull – Aurora, the royal family and the moor’s population of fairies, in particular, are all utterly blank. Overall, an underwhelming effort.