Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019): ‘Maleficent’s Expanded Universe’ – A Film Review

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The surprising runaway hit Maleficent, the film that took the evil character of a classic Disney film, Sleeping Beauty, and turned the story on its unexpected head, making her into a good character, was bound to get a sequel. Maleficent was a cheesy, CGI laden bend on the tale. Forcing the story into something distinctly other. Taking a villain and flipping them into a good character, feels strangely like a film for the outsiders. It also preempted films like The Shape of Water. Perhaps Maleficent came at the exact right time for a new development in film. Perhaps it was a cash grab of nostalgia but with a little twist. Either way, a corny tale with great visual effects gets another squeeze at retelling the story in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

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Working a Sequel

It is always difficult to judge a film by the sins of the original. A sequel should capture the tone and heart of the original whilst continuing a development into other areas. If the sequel takes the story, characters and ideas and completely negates them, then audiences tend to feel cheated. This might have been part of the problem with Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi or Alien³. Saying: actually, no, we’re not doing this, let’s kill off this character or negate the pay off of a build up in one story, then, audiences can be angry and disappointed. So, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is corny and cheesy, with visual spectacles being thick and shoddy replacements for characters. But then, Maleficent had much the same tone with many of its characters, looks and overall tone. It oddly matches.

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As a Sequel

What can be held against Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, is the sins of the sequel traps: we’re going to have a wedding, expanded families and hidden pasts. All are stereotypical events at pushing the story into more epic territory. It feels like a cheap shot, yet it pushes the film to bigger things. Despite this, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil boasts its cast’s performances well, despite being under thick but imaginative make up and costumes. The issue further comes with the over reliance on such visual spectacles. The CGI is nice, but it almost serves in place of any dramatic action and thus leaves the story and climax falling flat. Plot points are similarly rushed and characters often find out things when audiences do, despite not knowing what we do – thus rushing their motivations. It just serves the story.

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It’s a look, it’s a retread, it’s what you’d perhaps expect from a Maleficent sequel. Harmless if only for the fact that they’ll keep making them lest audiences stop returning to them. With the CGI remakes abound for Disney, Maleficent at least boasts its on new spin, even if it fails to capture the magic of its predecessor. The sequel is unnecessary, but then, so was the original re…. well ‘reimagining’. Fun enough for its dumbed down sense of a target audience. Audiences that will know better and see through it.

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Maleficent meets with her old enemies when it is announced that Aurora and Prince Philip are getting married.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Alien³ (d. David Fincher USA 1989)

Maleficent (d. Robert Stromberg USA 2014)

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (d. Joachim Rønning USA/UK 2019)

Sleeping Beauty (d. Clyde Geronimi USA 1959)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (d. Rian Johnson USA 2017)

The Shape of Water (d. Guillermo del Toro USA/Canada 2017)


Further Reading

Official Site

Angelina Jolie & Ellie Fanning Interview

Director Interview

Cast Interview

Behind the Scenes


Easter Eggs


If you liked this

The Lion King (2019): ‘Disney’s Beloved Redone’ – A Film Review

Mary Poppins Returns (2018): ‘The Sequel No One Wanted’ – A Film Review

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018): ‘Style Over Substance’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (d. Joachim Rønning USA/UK 2019)

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