Wednesday, October 16, 2019

MGF Reviews Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

The new Maleficent film can be summed up by paraphrasing Joss Whedon, “Not a good movie, but a great time.” I know that feels like a back-handed compliment, but it isn’t intended to be. I’ll explain more after the jump, but you deserve the upfront truth: This movie knows what it is. It is a fun, visually rich film aimed at teenage girls and young children. The writing is witty, the plot is straightforward and on point, the cute animals are cute, everyone learns a lesson about how the power of love helps build a world of peace between with those different from each other. So if you’re cool with magic that is depicted more like superpowers than real magic and want to sit back with your kids and enjoy a movie, go see it. If you want to know slightly more, follow the link below.

It bears noting that this new trend of soullessly remaking classic Disney films started with the first Maleficent film; the irony there is that the first Maleficent broke from the original Sleeping Beauty significantly. It was this willingness to change what everyone was expecting that made the first movie so successful and that allows this movie to be the fun time that it is. Don’t get me wrong, the movie feels forced in many ways and most of the characters doubly so, but the writers had the freedom to make it work. They made the funny characters funny, found ways to keep the extraneous characters off to the sides so they had their moments but didn’t interfere with the plot, and created a reason for the climactic battle at the end to happen that feels authentic to the world that was created. Unlike the remake of Aladdin, which didn’t know how musicals worked or how to properly frame a story, the director Joachim Rønning knows what this movie is supposed to be and gives it to the audience.

Aside from the stunning visuals, the real highlight of this film is the acting. While all of the original actors return, this movie rests on the shoulders of Angelina Jolie’s performance as Maleficent (the aforementioned “Mistress of Evil” that isn’t so evil), Ed Skrein’s portrayal of the angry warrior Borra, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Conall (a leader searching for peace), and Michelle Pfeiffer’s (actually evil) Queen Ingris. Their performances make this movie and the director did a great job of letting these actors bring their “A game” in a film where it could be very easy to phone it in.

Like I wrote at the beginning of the article, this isn’t Shakespeare but it is really enjoyable if you want a fun time at the movies with your family. It’s rated PG so you don’t need to worry about small children being scarred by anything and everything ends happily ever after. Given how the world is, there is something to be said for walking out of the theatre happy with laughing children.