“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” Once Again Chooses the Lazy Route and Makes a Villain a Hero

In the hands of more capable hands, or perhaps hands that are more willing or able to take chances with the story, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil could have been daring and dark. A Disney movie that revolves around a villain being a villain? The possibilities are endless and mind-boggling.

Maleficent had some amazing ideas… making the titular Disney baddie the victim of what can only be a sex crime analogy to fuel her hatred and her loathing of humans was brilliant, but the movie played it safe and softened the woman who, in the animated movie, claimed to possess all the powers of Hell, turning her into a loving hero and surrogate mother for Sleeping Beauty.

I never really thought that Maleficent was a bad movie, but it was infuriating. I wanted to see Maleficent be evil… not sweet, not a reluctant mother figure… evil. Just evil.

Now we have Mistress of Evil in which… she is not. Once again, Maleficent is simply a mistunderstood monster with a heart of gold.

And it’s still as frustrating as it was with the first movie.

While I would never claim that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a bad movie, it is flat and kind of dull. The world it takes place in is beautiful and the movie has no problem showing it off that borders on the exploitative, but never quite crosses that border.

The cast is amazing. Angelina Jolie doesn’t just work with what she’s given, but elevates it every second she’s on screen. I’m serious, folks… Angelina Jolie saves this movie from being mediocre simply by being the best possible Maleficent she can be and she is amazing. The only way she could be better would be to… you know… actually make Maleficent evil.

The story itself is fine. It’s never surprising, the twists and turns are telegraphed far ahead of when they occur almost as if the entire movie was ordered to be as dumbed down as possible. The revelation of the Dark Fae and showing them as an exiled people cowering in fear evoked memories of far better movies and the ending battle was so overstuffed with special effects and showy camera work that it comes off as more annoying than exciting.

…and that whole Phoenix thing? How can something be so ridiculous and yet so predictable at the same time?

I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed watching Angelina Jolie have an absolutely wonderful time playing the part, but the movie itself is such a non-event and practically reeking of studio interference and assembly by committee.

I hope one day perhaps Disney will give its villains a chance to actually be villains in their own movies, but the rational part of me wonders how the heck Cruella DeVil is going to be written as a hero. Perhaps she’s kidnapping dalmations to save them from a parvo outbreak?

Also, and I know this is off topic, but if I can give this movie credit for anything, it’s convincing me that Disney needs to make a live action Gargoyles movie. Like now.

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