I’ll cut to the chase. I enjoyed Maleficent: Mistress of Evil more than the first Maleficent. And while Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is the best of the three, Mistress of Evil is able to tell a more engaging story by being freed from having to be as tied to the original. If Maleficent tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from a different perspective, Mistress of Evil explains why the story is always told from King Stefan’s perspective.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith is a standout. The diversity of her recent roles including Ant-Man and the Wasp and Murder on the Orient Express show her talent as she disappears in each of those characters. Ingrith has no trace of Janet van Dyne in her. The dinner scene between her and Jolie’s Maleficent is the highlight of the film. It is only a shame that it occurs so early in the picture.

Also turning in a strong and fun performance in a surprise role is Warwick Davis. In fact, the entire cast is strong. The downside is that they are often acting in ways that don’t make a whole lot of sense. The actors try to convey the complexity of the situation, but they can’t compensate for the arc’s their characters have been given.

As I mentioned, the best scene is at the end of the film’s first act. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a climactic battle. The scene is impressive in scope and tension. You can feel the stakes while being at the edge of your seat. That perhaps makes it even more frustrating that the movie ends on a whimper.

The look of the film is extravagant and even more intriguing than the distinct visual style of the original. That being said, the film seems to linger a bit. It is a sign that the film could use some tightening up when despite its intriguing look, you get restless waiting for the story to move on.

While to script has some faults, the strong performances make the film worth seeing. I would also recommend seeing it in theaters instead of waiting for Disney+. The highlights of the film deserve to be seen on the big screen.

Disney is going to continue mining its creative legacy for new takes on classic tales. Each deserves to be measured on its own merits. And on a scale that ranges from Alice Through the Looking Glass to The Jungle Book, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is decidedly in the middle of the pack.

I give Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 3 out of 5 evil curses.

Laughing Place recommends Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for the best film, food, and drink - all in one seat.
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