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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

4K UHD Released: 1/14/2020

All Ratings out of

Movie: 1/2




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/20/2020

There are basically two kinds of movie sequels.  First, there are the follow-ups where you are truly invested in the characters and story and you simply can’t wait to see what happens next.  It would be great if all sequels fell into this category.  Sadly, the other category includes movies where you know that you saw the first movie, but really have no detailed recollection of what happened or why it happened.  (There’s also a third type where you haven’t seen the first movie and you’re watching the sequel because that’s what the people with you want to watch.)  These films can be very frustrating, as the movie insists that what you are seeing is important, but you just can’t place why.  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil falls squarely into this category.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil takes place a few years after the events of the first film.  Aurora (Elle Fanning) is now Queen of the Moors and oversees all of the woodland creatures.  When Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), who once woke Aurora from her deep slumber with “true love’s kiss”, proposes marriage, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), Aurora’s step-mother, is concerned, given her overall mistrust of humans.  In order to build a bridge of trust, Maleficent is invited to the castle to dine with Phillip’s parents, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer).  When this doesn’t go as planned, it only deepens the human’s distrust of Maleficent, who must defend herself.  As Aurora attempts to set things right, Maleficent will discover clues to her mysterious past.

2014’s Maleficent reportedly grossed over $750 million worldwide on a budget of $180 million.  So, I guess it made sense financially for Disney to greenlight a sequel.  But, was anyone asking for a second film?  Especially one which is 22-minutes longer than the original?  Everyone in my family saw the first film, but as we sat down to watch Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, no one could remember any specifics of that movie, save for the basic premise.  It was as if we’d all participated in some secret experiment and only had the faintest recollections of what had transpired.

And, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn’t do us any favors, as there’s basically no recap of the first film.  It simply informs us that five years have passed and then jumps right into the story.  Normally, that would be an admirable quality in a movie, but the assumption that we remember who these characters are or why they are doing what they are doing is a bold one.  It also doesn’t help that the story is simultaneously too banal while also being overly detailed.  The primary story involving the plot to portray Maleficent as wicked is meant to play as a classic fairy tale trope, but it feels very hackneyed.  The movie attempts to tack on additional meaning to this plot path by having the residents of the Moors be demonized as well – a half-hearted try at mirroring modern-day racism – but this also falls flat.  The movie’s other big story focus has to do with Maleficent discovering other winged creatures like herself.  Again, was anyone asking for this?  As stated, I don’t clearly remember Maleficent, but I thought that her origin was covered in that movie.

In the end, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a frustrating movie.  It’s great to see a fantasy film like this which has strong female characters in the lead.  But, other than that, it does very little to separate itself from the pack.  The CG-laden final battle sequence could have been lifted from any of the Lord of the Rings-esque films which we’ve seen over the last 15 years.  The movie sports a great cast and, of course, Jolie shines as the title character (although she doesn’t get all that much screen time).  Norwegian director Joachim Rønning has given the film a nice look, and based on his experiences with the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, he knows how to work with special effects.  Still, this movie will leave very little impact on most viewers, and if they make a third Maleficent film, I will once again be left to scratch my head and wonder what happened last time.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil made me wonder how many kids in the theater said, “Mommy, what’s a mistress?” on 4K UHD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a 2160p transfer which runs at 65 Mbps.  The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials.  During the daytime shots, the colors look fantastic and the movie offer a rainbow’s worth of bright tones.  However, when things get dark, they get way too dark here.  I’ve found that some 4Ks can skew dark and then one definitely fills that mold.  There were shots where the action was nearly invisible.  The level of detail is good though, and the depth works quite well, especially during the finale.  The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The action sequences deliver highly detailed surround and stereo effects, bringing even the smallest sound to life.  The subwoofer also packs a punch in these scenes.  The sound moves smoothly from front-to-rear and sounds coming from off-screen make their presence known.

The special features for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil are found on the Blu-ray Disc included in this set.  “Origins of the Fey” (3 minutes) has Jolie discussing how the backstory of Maleficent is represented and all of the questions surrounding this character.  “Aurora’s Wedding” (3 minutes) offers some on-set footage from the finale while Fanning describes her reaction to being in a Disney Princess wedding.  “If You Had Wings” (4 minutes) examines the flying effects from the film.  We go behind-the-scenes to see the various ways in which the characters are made to fly, as Jolie describes the work which goes into these scenes.  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil VFX Reel” (2 minutes) goes through several shots and shows the layers of effects which were used.  The Disc contains two EXTENDED SCENES which run about 4 minutes.  This is followed by 2-minute reel of OUTTAKES.  The final extra is the MUSIC VIDEO for the song “You Can’t Stop the Girl” by Bebe Rexha. 

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long