'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Review: A Bloated Tale of Uninteresting Proportions
Saturday, October 26, 2019 15:43 IST
By Shaurya Thakur, Santa Banta News Network
'Love doesn't always end well.'

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville

Director: Joachim Ronning

Rating: *1/2

Among many artists and other wise men, Robert McKee spoke about the importance of stories and storytelling as he believed that "Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today." Our belief in stories should never dwindle as they are the medium to live forever. It is through stories we stay on in the memories, it is through our stories we can be remembered forever.

Stories are the mementos of memorable associations, one that deserved to outlive the rest of our life's history. All children of both past and present have grown on a supple diet of stories- folklores and fairytales that have taught us the virtue of goodness and value of hope. We remember moralistic stories for the rest of our lives, as the lessons imparted in childhood help us to deal with the world at large as we grow older.

Alas, most of the fairy tales we've been told as children aren't true. What we've heard is a watered-down version of what Brothers Grimm collected. Their compilation of stark tales was never told, perhaps to protect children from the extreme gruesome details of Grimms' version.

The true conclusions and premises of such stories are much bleaker and clouded with sinister intentions. Based on the story of Sleeping Beauty, `Maleficent` is such a story- the one where not everything is bright and beautiful. Rather it was the tale of vengeance and betrayal at large, even though love eventually serves as a correction.

Maleficent came out in 2014, and it was a fascinating watch because unlike most of the fairytales, it had provided women with an agency of their own. Angelina Jolie as Maleficent is a remarkable anti-heroine. She's nowhere near perfect - she's angry, bold, darkly funny, and isn't waiting on a man to rescue her. She's also a fiercely strong protector of her world, but also finds light in her heart and raises a human daughter.

"Mistress of Evil" sees Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) finally marrying Aurora (Elle Fanning) which does nothing to soften Maleficent's hatred towards humans. This is not a story of the royal wedding followed by a happily ever after. Someone is ordering the abduction of fairies and there's an underground resistance of "outsiders" wanting to destroy humans before they can get to them. All these rising tensions draw Maleficent and Aurora apart, with their loyalty and love towards each others being tested.

The movie tries to bite off more than it can chew. No more than now we need women's stories and stories by women. Unfortunately, this feminist story has been radicalized into an overtly political film about "outsiders." This is a surface-level look at the burning issues of intolerance and persecution of minorities. It does that by taking slightly different storytelling routes, but none of them lead to a satisfying resolution.

Joachim Rønning's direction is substandard. There's no attention paid to the characters and the performances (especially Michelle Pfeiffer and Angelina Jolie) tip slightly towards hammy. Elle Fanning looks glorious as always but isn't given much to do here. New additions Ed Skrein and Chiwetel Ejiofor are severely underutilized. Adding insult to injury is the trite writing and some very generic CGI. Barring the battle sequences and Elle Fanning, this movie is another rightful entry into the list of the boring and pointless sequel this year.

"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil " does not succeed in reviving the magical beauty that had made the previous movie such a success. Instead, this sequel is rather preachy and just another cash grab for the studio system. The loss of innocence is quite literal here.
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