Monday, 4 November 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil ★☆☆☆☆

Next up in the long line of sequels nobody asked for, Disney has decided to pump almost $200 million into Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Yes, this is a sequel to 2014’s Maleficent, the Angelina Jolie starrer that absolutely nobody with a shred of taste liked. But, that being said, it made $750 million at the box office – more than a $500 million profit – so a sequel was a no brainer. Thanks a lot, anybody who went to see the first film. This is your fault. You did this. 

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) returns to the big screen as she encounters a conniving queen who hatches a devious plot to destroy the land's fairies. Hoping to stop her, Maleficent joins forces with a seasoned warrior and a group of outcasts to battle the queen and her powerful army. What follows is a big-budget pantomime that feels horribly dated and totally under-baked. The whole thing feels forced, and evidently Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – which in itself is a bizarre title after the titular character was redeemed in the first film – is just another Disney rush-job ready for their upcoming streaming service Disney+. It’s a glorified ‘streaming original’ that has been dropped into cinemas before its online platform is ready…

Mistress of Evil doesn’t feel like a big, new Disney film in the manner of, say, their recent reboots of Aladdin or The Lion King. Whilst those two films were equally unoriginal – reboots are, by their very nature – at least they felt fun and exciting and even necessary, giving much-loved stories new life. Maleficent does not feel that way. Despite some messages of inclusiveness and family that do occasionally land, the film is generally an over-the-top CGI mess that does nothing at all to justify its own existence. 

Angelina Jolie does her best with the role again, under excessive make-up to give her the look of Sleeping Beauty’s cartoon villain. But despite her best efforts (basically just doing the exact same meh performance she gave in 2014), there is nothing whatsoever she can do to elevate this trash. Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning also do their best with the pitiful material but there’s nothing they can do – the damage is already done. The script is abysmal and generic, ticking off every cliché from the Disney fantasy checklist. 

A big fantasy adventure like this has one chance to redeem itself – with the inevitable final showdown. In Mistress of Evil, it is a frantically-paced and CGI-stuffed affair that is nothing short of an eyesore. It is totally all over the place and, like the entire film, is so overly doused in special effects that it is hard to even remotely care about anything that is happening on screen. It’s all shitty bells and whistles, with absolutely zero substance underneath the desperate attempts to feel like a big, exciting blockbuster. We don’t give a shit about the characters, we don’t understand their motives, we don’t want to see them succeed. We just want the film to end, and it feels like that will never come as the film is just a few minutes shy of a sluggish two hours.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is yet another cinematic reminder that some films do not need sequels, and no matter how much money and CGI you chuck at them, you cannot polish a turd. Bloody awful.

Sam Love

At Eternity's Gate at CeX

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