Michael Scott

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil


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Movie: :4stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

Disney seems obsessed lately with re imagining their old classic fairy tales that made them popular, and turning them into live action adaptations. Most of them stick a bit TOO close to the original animated movies, except with the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Disney decided to go for an alternate angle with 2014’s Maleficent, changing the titular villain from a person of pure evil, and instead molding her into a tragic anti-hero, or at least a sympathetic villain with heart. They always say that the winners write the history books, and in the case of Sleeping Beauty the humans were the winners, thus the story we had known all these years was slightly different. But what had happened if King Stefan and Prince Phillip had NOT killed the evil Maleficent? How would her story and history have played out differently? 2014’s Maleficent tackled that issue as they tried to turn a classic Disney villain into a sympathetic character with decent (if not flawed) results. I like the original film, but it was a bit of a strain to see one of the most iconic Disney villains be a “misrepresented heroine” in disguise. Still, it was well acted, and had some serious fun with the alterations to the original lore.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil does something that I honestly didn’t think would happen when I saw that they had announced a sequel to the 2014 film. It actually made a BETTER movie. Usually when sequels come out (especially Disney sequels) they have a terrible tendency of losing what made them fun and enjoyable, and become rote and overly turgid retreads. However, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil actually expands upon the universe and pulls some interestingly dark twists for a PG rated film for children.

It’s been a few years since King Stefan was destroyed and the moors have finally been returned to the fairy folk and their kin with Aurora (Elle Fanning) as their defacto queen, and the redeemed Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) raising her as her mother. Phillip (now played by Harris Dickinson) has finally proposed to Aurora and she’s said yes. Now it’s time to meet the family, and boy is this going to be a doozy of a family dinner. Phillip’s peace loving father, King John (Robert Lindsay), and queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) are a bit nervous to meet the mistress of evil herself, and Maleficent is none too keen about the meeting either. However both sides try and bite their tongues in order to please their children’s wishes, only for things to go HORRIBLY awry. Ingrith goads Maleficent into a fit of raging, ending up with King John fallen on the floor with a curse remarkably similar to the one that turned Aurora into sleeping beauty, and leaving Maleficent with all the blame.

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Naturally it was nothing but a ruse by the humans, but in a twist of fate we find out that King John’s “curse” was nothing more than a ruse by Queen Ingrith, who is hungry for war with the fay folks so that she can wipe out the moors from the magical folk. She’s even gone so far as to commission a gigantic army unbeknownst to her husband and created some rather powerful magical infused weapons that have the power to kill the fay. Wounding Maleficent in the escape from the human castle, she’s left for dead, only to be picked up by an unlikely ally that finally proves that Maleficent is not the last of her kind after all.

The rest of the story plays out about how you would expect in an effects ridden kids film. Maleficent is once again put back into the role of tragically misunderstood villain and she has to once again beat the true villain of the story, a human who is scared of what they don’t understand. Not exactly ground breaking, but there is some neat twists to the story. The main one being Maleficent’s discovery that she is not the last of the Dark Fey like she thought she was. Instead of being terrified of love due to heartbreak like in the first film, this is a journey of self discovery for her adult self. Reconciling that she is more than just a single powerful fairy folk, and capable of SO MUCH more. The second aspect was the growth between her and Aurora in terms of their relationship. The film relied HEAVILY on the fact that Maleficent was no longer just a lone wolf. She was a mother, and this binding agent is the key focal point to her temperance and wisdom later on in the film. In fact, some of the more emotionally poignant moments are between her and Aurora near as the two form an extremely strong familial bond that acts as the anchor point for the conclusion.




Rating:

Rated PG for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video: :4.5stars:
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Shot at 8K resolution digital cameras, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was downscaled to a 2K digital intermediate for the home video release. Being that this was a MASSIVELY effects dominated film that’s to be expected, as rendering effects in 4K is enormously more expensive than in 2K. Still, the upgrade over the already excellent 1080p disc is quite palpable, with a fantastic array of bright, HDR laden colors that really pop and are extremely vibrant. The colors shift from bright ambers and neutral colors of the human world, to the bright and vivid Moors at will, and even go to a more desaturated ash gray when Maleficent wakes up on the exiled home island of the Dark Fay. Fine details are exquisite, and even though this is a very heavily CGI’d movie, the CGI never really seems out of place or awkward, despite there being a TON of it. Blacks are deep and inky to the core, and shadow detail is resplendent (look at the dark island of the Fay, it’s saturated in shadows but you can see pretty much every detail with relative ease).








Audio: :4stars:
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Now onto the part that always leaves me a bit frustrated with Disney movies. The audio. Like usual, Disney relegates the Atmos track to the 4K UHD disc, giving it a decent boost over the rather lackluster 7.1 DTS-HD MA track from the Blu-ray. The mix suffers from the typical volume level decrease that most Disney movies are prone to, but when boosted to reference levels the track opens up quite a bit. LFE is punchy and deep, and the surrounds and overheads are actually quite active. The dynamics aren’t massive as one would have hoped, but it’s definitely an increase over the Blu-ray and the track itself is more than reasonably satisfactory, even if I wished there was more punch to the low end and some wilder dynamics.







Extras: :2.5stars:
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• Origins of the Fey
• Aurora's Wedding
• If You Had Wings
• Maleficent: Mistress of Evil VFX Reel (
• Extended Scenes
• Outtakes
• Music Video "You Can't Stop the Girl" performed by Bebe Rexha.












Final Score: :4stars:


All in all, I actually liked Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, even more so than the decent first film. I actually liked Maleficent when it came out, but understood that it was still a heavily flawed film and wasn’t wildly comfortable with them remaking Maleficent into a semi heroine. However, I’ve sort of accepted the “elseworlds” tale of sleeping beauty, and the sequel expanded upon the first one quite nicely. It’s still not a perfect movie by any means, but it’s a goodly amount of fun with the concept, and Angelina Jolie hams it up as the queen of “evil” herself with gusto. Disney once again knocks it out of the park with the video, and like usual, under performs on the audio. Worth it as a fun watch if you enjoy light and airy fantasy.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfieffer, Harris Dickinson, Sam Riley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein
Directed by: Joachim Ronning
Written by: Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese DD+ 7.1, French (Canada) DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Rated: PG
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 14th, 2020
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Recommendation: Fun Watch





 
Last edited:

bkeeler10

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Sounds like fun. I'll be watching it for sure, but I may have to revisit the first one since it's been so long. Thanks for the review.
 
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