By David Lee Zamora
Special to the Parade
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is surprisingly dark fantasy that reminded me of Lord of the Rings and Shrek, and I’ll get into that odd mix later.
The film’s small amount of slapstick humor, mixed with its incredible imagery, and awesome character designs, makes the first half a delightful experience that made the almost-two-hour watch worth it, in my opinion.
The film starts out in a dark forest, with three poachers are stealing magical mushroom people—yes, remember this is a fantasy movie. When one of the mushroom people gets away, a poacher runs after him while the other two stay behind. Suddenly, they are grabbed by vines and held helplessly in the air. Out of the bottom of the screen emerges a horned figure, watching as the men are beaten with the vines. This is so dark and creepy, its like something out of the horror film The Evil Dead, which is very weird because, remember, it’s a Disney film.
Afterwards, the film takes a lighter note, showing little and big magic creatures frolic around their home woods, called the Moor, playing with Princess Aurora (Mary Elle Fanning) a human who was adopted by the witch and protector of the Moor. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), a bird-like human with black wings, horns and green magic; we later learn she’s from a race called the “dark fey.” She meets with her love interest, Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) and they arrange to get married, bringing an end to the human and magic creatures’ war.
Unfortunately, Maleficent and Prince Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) don’t want them married, and Ingress is horribly prejudiced towards . This is what leads to the major conflict of film
The film is the sequel to the 2014 film Maleficent which, unfortunately, I haven’t seen.This didn’t hinder my experience in any way, mostly because the film is more of a display of Disney’s impressive skills in animation and how well they can make a film. So, don’t feel like you need to see the first one before this: there truly isn’t a reason to, in my opinion; the plot is pretty easy to follow.
The beginning of the film is surprisingly dark, but after that it reminded me so much of the Shrek films, with all the fun, little, goofy creatures running and flying around doing Tom and Jerry-esque slapstick comedy that made me kind of like them. I say kind of because its just for a couple of minutes, and I’m sure if i saw the first film, I would have liked them more.
Like I said, this is only for a couple minutes, then the film goes into a sort of Lord Of The Rings vibe, with plotting and similar imagery. When Queen Ingrith walks into a secret tunnel, leading to what looks like a factory where her soldiers are making weapons and ammunition for the war, is very reminiscent to the legendary scenes in Lord of the Rings, where we see the orcs making weapons in giant pits. All this really made me love the film, especially the race of bird people that Maleficent is from. They look stunning, their costume design is awesome.
Spoiler warning: unfortunately all this is ruined by the last half of the film, with its countless “WTF” moments, like the army of bird people, who are shown as superior warriors with their great strength, speed, magic, and that ability to fly, manage to get completely destroyed because they stupidly rush a heavily-fortified castle, which is protected by thousands of soldiers with crossbows. And yes, this is mostly nitpicky stuff that i had a problem with, but when it’s so much, I can’t just ignore it.
I especially had many issues with the ending. Of course, I’m not going to spoil that, but it’s too much of a happy ending. it’s like everyone just forgot about everything that had just happened and got along. I mean, I get it’s a kid’s film, but then why is there a magic-being genocide and so much emphasis on death?
Honestly, in the end, I still really like this film, and its awesome designs, but if anything, I’d much rather rewatch The Lord of the Rings trilogy, because it truly is a great fantasy trilogy that gets your attention and pays off with its beautiful ending.