Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

2019, PG, 118 min. Directed by Joachim Rønning. Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

REVIEWED By Sarah Marloff, Fri., Oct. 18, 2019

In 2014, Angelina Jolie – once considered a god among actresses – gave us our first true, arguably perfect, glimpse at a live-action Maleficent, one of the original Disney villains from Sleeping Beauty. In the budding era of live-action remakes, Jolie’s version of the iconic witch in Maleficent had depth, beauty, humor, and a much-appreciated feminist twist on the classic children’s fairy tale – after all, Sleeping Beauty is, in fact, asleep for most of her story. In the retelling, Maleficent, who isn’t evil, accidentally adopts her foe’s child and it’s her kiss – not some prince’s – who wakes the sleeping princess Aurora.

Cut to 2019 and many a Disney live-action do-over later, and you’ll find Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Jolie returns, as does screenwriter Linda Woolverton (joined by A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood scribes Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster), while Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales co-director Joachim Rønning replaces Robert Stromberg in the director’s seat. The storyline picks up where the first left off: Aurora (Fanning) is now queen of her godmother’s magical Moors, benevolently ruling over her mythical friends. But the plot soon takes a predictable turn when Prince Philip (Dickinson) – who she doesn’t marry at the end of the first film – asks for her hand and she happily gives it to him. (Why did we even bother waiting until the sequel then?!) Over the next two hours, drama of life and death proportions arise, war is waged by two new parties, and a few somewhat muddled morals are argued.

Visually stunning, Mistress of Evil achieves full fairy-tale splendor – flowers glow, trees walk, and fairies of all shapes, sizes, and colors take flight. The elaborate costumes, especially those worn by Michelle Pfeiffer’s Queen Ingrith, are noteworthy and will surely inspire many a Halloween look. In short, this is where the second Maleficent excels, an instant crowd-pleaser for any fantasy-loving child or adult.

The storyline, however, lacks the depth of the original while also relying on the character development from the first story to carry it forward. (The film, thankfully, opens with a “last time on Maleficent” to bring you up to speed.) And, in what feels like lazy filmmaking, the movie simply repeats history, retelling the same plot arc as the original (Is Maleficent bad or good?) but with more fairies and a bigger, badder, bad guy. Like the first, Mistress of Evil strives to focus on women’s strength, but even that gets lost between the impending nuptials, Pfeiffer’s near-mad queen's ire à la season 8 Daenerys Targaryen, and a dearth of dialogue. Usually, fewer lines means greater action, but that too, is not the case in Mistress of Evil, which feels weighed down by a backstory that didn’t really need to be told.

But the film, largely considered a “children’s movie” as most Disney projects are, isn’t devoid of character. Like any movie worthy of the Disney moniker, the animated creature-sidekicks are squee-worthy, and Jolie’s quippy one-liners – not to mention the moments capturing her own wide-eyed amusement at herself – offer welcome comedic relief. Meanwhile, Fanning continues to own the role of sweet, naive, and optimistic Aurora, and Pfeiffer, like Jolie, is clearly having fun with her evil mastermind persona.

As a movie made for youths, it’s easy to cut Mistress of Evil some slack for its mesmerizing world and well-intentioned message to trust in others and embrace differences. Yet, where the first managed to put an intricate new spin on an old tale, the sequel, despite its strong cast, can’t help but feel a bit like a tired storyline being retold for a quick cash-in.

Showtimes

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Wed., Nov. 13

12:45, 3:50, 6:50, 9:50

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 1:20, 4:20, 7:10

Thu., Nov. 14

CC/DVS 1:20, 4:20, 7:10

Fri., Nov. 15

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40, 9:30

Sat., Nov. 16

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40, 9:30

Sun., Nov. 17

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40, 9:30

Mon., Nov. 18

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40

Tue., Nov. 19

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:40, 6:40

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45

Thu., Nov. 14

digital 9:45am, 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 12:10, 3:10, 6:15, 9:10

Thu., Nov. 14

digital 12:10, 3:10, 6:15, 9:10

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 11:05am, 1:55, 4:45, 7:35, 10:25

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 1:00, 3:40, 7:05, 10:00

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 10:30am, 1:30, 4:30, 7:30, 10:30

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 12:20, 3:35, 6:25, 9:05

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Wed., Nov. 13

1:10, 4:10, 7:05, 10:05

Thu., Nov. 14

1:10, 4:10, 7:05, 10:05

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Wed., Nov. 13

10:15am, 1:15, 4:00, 6:45, 9:30

Thu., Nov. 14

10:15am, 1:00, 3:50, 6:45, 9:35

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Wed., Nov. 13

CC 10:30am, 1:45, 5:00, 8:15

Thu., Nov. 14

CC 11:15am, 1:45, 5:00, 8:15

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Wed., Nov. 13

CC 10:10am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:00

Thu., Nov. 14

CC 10:10am, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:00

Fri., Nov. 15

CC 10:25am, 1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Sat., Nov. 16

CC 10:25am, 1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Sun., Nov. 17

CC 10:25am, 1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Mon., Nov. 18

CC 10:25am, 1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Tue., Nov. 19

CC 10:25am, 1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 12:50, 3:50, 6:40, 9:40

Thu., Nov. 14

CC/DVS 12:50, 3:50, 6:40, 9:40

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Wed., Nov. 13

11:30am, 2:10, 4:40, 7:15

Thu., Nov. 14

11:30am, 2:10

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Wed., Nov. 13

12:05, 3:10, 6:45, 9:45

Thu., Nov. 14

1:00, 3:30, 6:45, 9:45

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 3:15, 6:00, 9:00

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 2:10, 5:05, 7:55, 10:45

Thu., Nov. 14

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:15, 5:05, 7:55, 10:45

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Wed., Nov. 13

10:00am, 1:05, 4:15, 7:00, 10:10

Thu., Nov. 14

10:00am, 1:05, 4:15, 7:00, 10:10

Fri., Nov. 15

9:45am, 12:15, 2:15, 6:00, 9:10

Sat., Nov. 16

9:45am, 12:15, 2:15, 6:00, 9:10

Sun., Nov. 17

9:30am, 11:00am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:10

Mon., Nov. 18

12:15, 2:15, 6:00, 9:10

Tue., Nov. 19

12:15, 2:15, 6:00, 9:10

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Wed., Nov. 13

11:55am, 3:15, 6:00, 9:20

Thu., Nov. 14

11:55am, 3:15, 6:00, 9:20

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Wed., Nov. 13

10:00am, 1:00, 4:05, 7:10, 10:20

Thu., Nov. 14

9:55am, 1:05, 4:05, 7:20, 10:20

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Wed., Nov. 13

1:30, 4:30, 6:40

Thu., Nov. 14

1:30, 4:25

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Wed., Nov. 13

11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, 9:40

Thu., Nov. 14

11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, 9:40

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Wed., Nov. 13

11:45am, 2:30, 5:15, 7:15, 10:15

Thu., Nov. 14

11:45am, 2:30, 5:15, 7:15, 10:15

Fri., Nov. 15

11:15am, 2:00, 4:45, 7:30, 10:15

Sat., Nov. 16

11:15am, 2:00, 4:45, 7:30, 10:15

Sun., Nov. 17

11:15am, 2:00, 4:45, 7:30, 10:15

Mon., Nov. 18

12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45

Tue., Nov. 19

12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:45

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:55, 4:40, 7:25, 10:10

Thu., Nov. 14

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:55, 4:40, 7:25, 10:10

Fri., Nov. 15

CC/DVS 11:05am, 2:40, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

Sat., Nov. 16

CC/DVS 11:05am, 2:40, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

Sun., Nov. 17

CC/DVS 11:05am, 2:40, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

Mon., Nov. 18

CC/DVS 11:05am, 2:40, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

Tue., Nov. 19

CC/DVS 11:05am, 2:40, 4:15, 7:00, 9:45

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Joachim Rønning, Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Chiwetel Ejiofor

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