A spoiler tainted review of the Disney Film
(This article was originally published on Medium. It was my most read article on that website.) If you haven’t seen “Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil” and you want to, do not read any further. There’s no reason to spoil the film for yourself, and you might love it more than I did. Otherwise, the discussion starts after the trailer.
‘Maleficent 2’ Forgets Its Origins — Twice
In 1959, Maleficent made her screen debut in Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” She was the elegant, ideal version of evil. Her motives were petty — she wasn’t invited to the party. Her punishment was excessive — Aurora’s death by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel. The spell was changed so that Aurora would only awake after Prince Phillip kissed her; Maleficent would hold Prince Phillip hostage for 100 years before he’d be able to rescue the princess. She was, in her own words, “The Mistress of All Evil,” which is the phrase used in the title of the second film. The Maleficent of the second film, is clearly not the mistress of evil, not even a little bit. Disney wanted to do a different take on the character, fine, but why then harken back to Maleficent’s role in every other film and video appearance since then.
In 2014, Disney struck gold with “Maleficent,” which scored over $750 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. The movie rode the coattails of the “Frozen” phenomenon by exploring the relationship and love that women can have for each other. “Frozen” addressed the love between sisters. “Maleficent” addressed the love of a mother-figure for a daughter without becoming the evil stepmother. The success of this movie was based on the idea that women can create a loving relationship and bond that supports one another. “Maleficent 2” takes that idea and stomps on it with all of the force and bravado of a long-drawn out and unnecessarily dumb battle sequence. In essence, the movie becomes Michelle Pfeiffer, the Mistress of Evil, versus Angelina Jolie, the dark fairy phoenix.
It’s Grey and Dark
All 3D movies still have an issue with dark scenes, and “Maleficent 2” suffers from it. Even the scenes at the beginning that are supposed to be colorful and show the beauty of the fairy world and the scenes in the middle that show the beauty of the dark fairies are muted. The scenes that take place in the rain, water, and dark are much harder to see and enjoy.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
It seems that Disney didn’t learn anything from “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the ill-fated sequel to “Alice In Wonderland.” “Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil” has some of the same issues. It’s not a sequel anyone asked for. There are pacing problems and scenes that are completely unnecessary to the plot and film. However, the worst part about this film, featuring Angelina Jolie in a role she was born to play, is that it wasn’t true to itself, it’s not true to the spirit of family, and it isn’t true to the audience that made the first one so popular. You can rent this same film under the title “Snow White and the Huntsman;” the only difference is that film is Kristen Stewart versus Charlize Theron. Or just return to “Maleficent” for a much better film experience.
Want more Disney discussion? Try my book “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” It combines Disney articles with suggestions based on researched principles to help you become more creative. You may also enjoy “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”