By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Had Maleficent been known by any other name I’d swear she is Morgan le Fay from King Arthur. Not in the traditional sense ala Thomas Malory‘s Morte D’Arthur but instead is in the vein of Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s Mists of Avalon series to which is where the franchise may head towards. I would not be surprised if Angelina Jolie (who plays the title character) told the writers to draw inspiration from the book series.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil continues being a supernatural protector in the world of Sleeping Beauty. When one of the faerie kind shows a certain prowess, he or she can become something more than just another demigod.
Maleficent’s motherly instincts continues to be the focus in part two. When Aurora (Elle Fanning) reveals she is to marry Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson), both sides of the family are not quite behind the union 100%. It’s funny that both sides holds a distrust of what the other represents. What’s worse is how one matriarch can’t let the past be forgotten. This type of conflict makes for an atypical fight for the ages.
To broker peace is not easy. Not only does Maleficent have to represent a lost race but also serve as a diplomat. Save for a few, humanity sees the fairy world as populated by devils and demons. When they prosper, jealousy takes root. Queen Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) motives seem justified, but to provoke them into a war is not. She’s no better when she shows her true colours.
This sequel prances about between the familiar aspects that make up the original tale. The Faerie world is exotic and I’m fairly sure it borrows more from Legend of Zelda than anything else. This aspect doesn’t feel too out of place, and at least makes the film a bit more accessible to long time fans of fantasy narratives. There’s even a hint of Sonic the Hedgehog buried in the supporting cast of critters. Despite the usual Disney style trappings, they were basically non-essential characters.
Humanity is no better than the Faerie they distrust. It’s a look into the mirror darkly of prejudice. To be pure of heart is tough. To be a mom, even not by blood, is harder. Just who holds control means a fight between the two Queens and the Kings who offer very little help in this narrative.
As for whether a third film can emerge, it depends on whether Angelina Jolie in her executive producer role wants to reprise the character one more time. I’m open to it, as I’m waiting for this new queen to broker a peace when an invading half-son raids the lands, and Philip finds this new Camelot cannot last forever.
3½ Stars out of 5