Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The wedding party is assembled, excited to celebrate the union of two feuding houses, and the beginning of a peaceful new era. They take their seats in the decked-up hall and the from high above the altar, a song begins to play. The mood shifts, a nervousness falls over the room as the song gets grimmer with each note. The bridal party watches in horror as their hosts bolt the doors on them. A massacre is on the menu. The heartless musician plays along her horrid song as one by one, the guests are slaughtered in the wedding hall. The room is bathed in red. Generations to come will call this The Red Wedding, a dark, blood-stained chapter in the book of… Disney. Sorry, but were you expecting something else? Because I am talking about the Mouse House’s latest addition to a long list of unnecessary sequels, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
In case I reminded you of a certain little television show about dragons and dead people, chances are, so will Mistress of Evil. Disney has roped in a new director (Joachim Rønning), a new prince (Harris Dickinson) and an evil new queen (Michelle Pfeiffer) as it brings back the fairy goth-mother (Angelina Jolie) and her human plaything (Elle Fanning) to teach a lesson in race relations and the importance of tolerance. Maleficent 2, however, is a boring and chaotic Disney fairytale at worst and a Game of Thrones recap at best.
Watch Maleficent trailer here:
We meet Aurora and Maleficent almost five years after the events of Maleficent (2014), when the lime green villainess went against her Brothers Grimm origins to redeem herself as a golden-hearted woman who just needed some love. It was the biggest leap Disney had taken between its animated and live-action versions of a film; a change welcomed by even the biggest critics of the studios. But five years and multiple million dollars hence, Mistress of Evil offers nothing new or even remotely as path-breaking, emotional or magical as its predecessor.
It’s been years since Aurora woke up from that deadly nap and Prince Phillip has made up his mind to ask her hand in marriage before she hits the snooze button once again. While Aurora jumps at his proposal, Maleficent is not over the moon about the engagement. She is unwilling to share her precious child with anyone and while Phillips’ intentions may be quite noble, those of his mother are not. The queen invites Aurora and Maleficent to her castle, which is merely a ploy to provoke the already insecure mother, afraid to lose her cub. A few barbed words about Maleficent not being ‘a real mother’ and thinly-veiled disgust for the magical folk, leaves her oozing green fumes. Chaos and curses fill up the dining hall and now it’s the king’s turn to take a long, sweet, cursed nap. Hurt by her daughter’s mistrust in her, Maleficent decides she’s played mommy long enough.
Angelina Jolie is wasted in Maleficent Mistress of Evil.
In her loneliness, Maleficent finds her people in a Na’vi basecamp. However, her own kind is also lusting for murder, looking for the first opportunity to overthrow humans. #FeyAndProud. They wish to recruit her in their army and while she is still plagued by her love for her human daughter, she may just not have luxury of peace anymore. The evil queen is planning chemical warfare on the magical folk, to let humans reign over the world once again.
What I just described to you in a paragraph and a half is what took more than two-third of the film’s entire runtime. This entire episode was a drudge to walk through, boring, witless and devoid of any magic. Even Jolie, who breathed a sassy charm as the evil witch we all wanted to love a few years ago, gets next to no dialogues when compared to Fanning or Pfeiffer. She does the spooky glare, tries a pathetic smile, tears up in a couple of scenes, and just flies around, a lot. I can’t remember her speaking a coherent, full sentence more than once in the whole movie. What a waste of an actor who, one could say, was born to play this role.
Michelle Pfeiffer was given the most uninteresting, seen-a-thousand-times character that some one like her did not deserve
Even the decision to bring Pfeiffer as Jolie’s rival felt useless after a point. She is the same one-dimensional evil rich woman that the makers did not let Maleficent be in the first film. Talking in the same ‘evil stepmother’ tone, with a midget for her sidekick and secret lair to hide her dark hobbies, Pfeiffer was given the most uninteresting, seen-a-thousand-times character that someone like her did not deserve. But that’s what Disney has been up to lately. They bring on these legendary, Oscar winners to their multi-million dollar films, cashing in on the iconic image they have built over the years. Sure, seeing these actors as the face of the characters may give the validation these film seek so desperately, but do they ever give anything back to the actors? The roles are almost always too simple, too unimaginative.
But if your love for Jolie or Pfeiffer still pulls you to the theatres, and you start realising what a mistake you have made at half time, let me just tell you that the climax does make things better. The action is quite engaging and rewarding, although heavily inspired by Game of Thrones. A happy difference is that all of it is shot in daylight so that’ll be a sweet treat to your eyes.
So it the climax worth suffering through the rest of the film? May be not. But it does leave you feeling less frustrated than you previously were.