The best thing you can say about this sequel to 2014’s successful The Sleeping Beauty spin-off Maleficent – is that it’s comfortably better than Alice Through the Looking Glass.
That follow-up to Alice in Wonderland seemed to be have been made as a simple cash-in on the original, and even though you could argue that this has been cobbled together to do the same – at least there’s a watchable story to be had.
When Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) asks Aurora (Elle Fanning) – who has reigned as Queen of the Moors for the past five years – to marry him, it sets off a chain of events that plays into his mother, Queen Ingrith’s (Michelle Pfeiffer), hands.
While it’s tagged as a unity that will bring the Moors, and it’s neighbouring kingdom Ulstead – ruled by Ingrith and her husband King John (Robert Lindsay) – together, there’s darker, ulterior motives, at play.
And after Aurora and her Godmother Maleficent (Angelia Jolie) – protector of the Moors – are invited to an intimate dinner to celebrate the impending marriage union, it backfires when the sceptical Maleficent is accused of cursing the king.
This leads to the powerful and misunderstood Maleficent being rescued by a mysterious winged creature – Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Conall – after she is left for dead in a set-up, and she soon realises there are more beings like herself, known as the Dark Fae.
But their commander-in-chief Borra (Deadpool’s Ed Skrein) favours open conflict with the humans, and with Maleficent disillusioned after recent events it leads to a potential war that puts her and Aurora on opposite sides.
And alongside impressive visuals and production values it pretty much plays out as you’d expect – with a solid enough tale that never really excels or wavers.
Jolie, Fanning, Pfeiffer, Ejiofor and co all turn up to do what is expected – nothing more, nothing less – before taking home the paycheck.
And on this occasion that’s just about enough to fire out a competent original story that provides a serviceable slice of family entertainment – although it does play it fairly safe throughout.
As a side note, former Aston Villa and Norway international striker John Carew cameos as a jungle warrior – which is nothing more than a ‘tidbit’ and doesn’t affect this review in any way shape or form. Just a bit of pub trivia for your mates.
So stretching this to a trilogy would definitely be pushing it, but as sequels go, this Mistress of Evil just about provides a noteworthy chapter in the Disney pantheon – even if it’s hardly a magical experience that will be banished from memory as soon as you get home.
ESP Rating: 3/5
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein, Sam Riley, Robert Lindsay, David Gyasi, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Judith Shekoni, Warwick Davis, John Carew & Chiwetel Ejiofor
Running Time: 1 Hr 59 Mins
Director: Joachim Ronning