Maleficent no longer Mistress of Evil, finds heart in newest Disney movie

Farah Javed

Amidst the new unconventional box office releases like Gemini Man and Jojo Rabbit, Disney continues in its live-action craze with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

In this sequel to the 2014 mixed-reviewed Maleficent, Disney has deviated from its source material once again.

Maleficent first appeared in Sleeping Beauty as the main villain but this all changes.

Following the end of the first movie, Aurora and Maleficent rule over the Moors, with Angelina Jolie reprising her role as Maleficent and Elle Fanning as Aurora.

The set design ranges from detailed, colorful forests to the dazzling castles that offer an eye pleasing display that adds to the fairytale aura.

This is notable in Aurora’s laced, flower-lined dresses and intricate crown. Even Maleficent’s attire, though completely black, changes from dark and long fabric to a more lacey and flowing kind as she learns to live with humans and be herself.

Though there are nods to the original Sleeping Beauty story, such as Aurora’s dress changing from pink to green to blue, the story itself is entirely different.

Instead of being an evil sorceress, Maleficent is a misunderstood fairy. Director Joachim Rønning steers the audience to sympathize with her, because she is the last of her kind — misunderstood and judged by humans.

Moreover, a staple of the original film is the presence of the three fairies Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, who act as loving maternal figures for the motherless Aurora.

In this sequel, they are reduced to being ditsy and dumb nuisances for Aurora as she conducts the kingdom. 

In fact, Maleficent’s bird, Diablo renamed Diaval, is more likened to being Aurora’s family and is helpful in both finding Maleficent and fighting the war against humans. 

The film is supposed to focus on Maleficent, as she is the protagonist, but more screen time is devoted to Queen Ingrid, Aurora and Prince Philip.

Queen Ingrid is the villain, so it makes sense for her, but Aurora and Philip essentially serve as detriments to the plot.

Aurora reveals to the Queen that iron is Maleficent’s weakness, and during the war sequence, Maleficent sacrifices herself to save Aurora. All Philip did was propose to Aurora, otherwise he is nonessential to the story.

The movie’s goal goes amiss in failing to explain two crucial points of the story; Maleficent’s finding of her own kind and the Queen’s backstory. 

For the former, it is unknown how Maleficent didn’t know her own people were in hiding or what happened that made her believe that they are dead. 

For the latter, the Queen briefly mentions that she wants the Moors dead because they killed her brother. This doesn’t explain, however, why she is willing to have her son, Aurora and husband die in her quest.

This movie is a rare instance where the CGI and acting are so good that it compensates for the nonsensicalness of the movie. Jolie makes the viewer question if she is really in the wrong.

Michelle Pfeiffer brings both grace and venom in her role as Queen Ingrid. Fanning conveys a naive yet sense of compassion, paralleling Lily James in the Cinderella live-action remake. 

The minor moments of humor peppered in, like Maleficent practicing how to not smile scarily, bring a level of relatability to an otherwise outlandish story. 

The only unwatchable part of the film is its climax, the war between the Moors and humans in Black Panther fashion. 

Cameras panned in too closely on every character showing grunts and glares. In trying to make the fight more intense, the actual fighting scene fell flat.

As Queen Ingrid stood vulnerable on a roof, her army fired balls of poison at the fairies, causing them to disintegrate.

This weapon of choice is farfetched, but forgivable for such a fantastical storyline.

Ultimately, in true Disney fashion, an emotional happy ending and a wedding make up for the weak war. Philip and Aurora are truly in love, and even Maleficent gets her happily-ever-after. Just for the sheer fact of wrapping up loose ends, even the Queen is turned into a goat.

The audience understands that the true mistress of evil is the Queen, representing a loved figure that is truly evil on the inside, contrasting with Maleficent’s bad reputation but golden heart.

This unique and unexpected switch adds to the non-canon additions of Maleficent’s story.

In the end, Rønning accomplishes his mission of showing that no one is truly evil or truly good.