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.

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

Gavin Miller

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

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