Courtesy of Disney
At the beginning of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Prince Phillip proposes to Aurora– and that’s probably the happiest thing that happened in the whole movie.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was released on October 18th, and made 758.6 million dollars at the box office.
The special effects and animation in the movie are gorgeous. The costume design is stunning. The score is moving. But, the writing? It’s just plain bad. It’s unfaithful to the first movie, a cheap grab at ‘wokeness’ through thinly veiled analogies, and ignores plenty of ‘movie writing 101’ tips.
After Philip proposes, Maleficent is invited along with aurora to his parent’s castle for a
celebratory dinner. By the end of said dinner, the king is poisoned, and Aurora immediately believes Maleficent is the culprit, undoing the entire message of the first movie: that Aurora knows Maleficent is good no matter what others think of her.
When Maleficent is shot down by the queen’s right-hand man, she is brought back to a secluded island by another fae where he, and the other fae just like her, are hiding from the humans. Right away, you can tell something’s up here.
This isn’t something I can take up with Maleficent as much as Holywood at large, but you can tell they’re trying to relate the Fae with indigenous people as they’re painted as primitive and violent. This is something that often happens to groups of aliens and fantasy creatures in movies, but I can still be mad about it when it comes to Maleficent.
All while this is happening, Aurora is under the queen’s thumb– we know the queen is evil, but Aurora is painted as naive and believes her lies up until the final battle. Just before the “wedding” (which we as the audience know is a trap to essentially commit faerie genocide by gas-chamber, using genetically engineered bombs. Are you sure this is a children’s movie?) Aurora wanders down to the queen’s enslaved pixie’s office to find kidnapped faeries, as well as the spindle which first put her to sleep.
She then figures out that the queen was the one who poisoned the king, and she believes her mother again! She sets out to stop the war the humans have waged on the Dark Fae. When Maleficent arrives, she’s in a new costume– an unsurprisingly impractical barely-there dress. The first movie was really good about costume designs that were related and practical, but all movie franchises have to cave sometime, right?
We end with a wedding right on the castle lawn with all the people of Ulstead and The Moors in attendance. So, I take it back– the wedding always reigns as the happiest moment in a fairytale.
In the middle of this battle, the Queen took the time to give a dramatic monologue about why she thought she was right to hate the faeries, which was basically the colonizer’s rhetoric of “you guys have resources and you didn’t share them so you deserve to die”. She’s incredibly unrelatable, which most people know is exactly how you write a bad villain. How can she be compelling as a character if we don’t see the validity of her motive?
Despite its many, many shortcomings, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil made me tear up, and that’s a plus in my book. Overall, if you’re just in it for fun, magical effects or even Angelia Jolie’s incredibly sharp cheekbones, I encourage you to go see the movie.
However, if you’re like me and have to read into all aspects of a movie before you can consider enjoying it– I’d skip this one.