Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is beautifully animated, but there are many dark moments and themes within the movie that overshadow the notion that this film is supposed to be for kids or younger audiences. Angelina Jolie as the live-action evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty steps into this role, yet again, seamlessly. The movie with its CG-animation, fantastical set designs, elaborate costumes with intricate details and unique creatures and fanciful fairies, is somehow overshadowed by the movie’s very dark tone.
However, there are themes of: a real mother’s love, bridging the gap between difference, presenting evil as something that is good, and the transcendent power of love. It is also to be noted that there is a theme of underworld and secret societies at war with human-kind, both spiritually and naturally.
Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) and Aurora (Elle Fanning) get engaged to be married, and while Maleficent is adamant that her daughter Aurora not intermingle with humans who she asserts, “Prey on the weak”, a marriage is planned by the seemingly genuine Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). All is well until a spell is cast on the peace-seeking King John (Robert Lindsay), and a secret society of winged creatures unearth themselves with a plan to have a full-out attack on humans.
It soon becomes evident that the gracious, regal Queen all-dressed in white is not what she appears to be, and has serious motives of her own. Queen Ingrith is beautiful externally, but inwardly her heart has gone dark. Decked in the most bedazzling royal attire, her dark eyes masterfully speak volumes.
The costume design, lighting design, set design and cinematography are beyond what we have come to expect from a Disney animated film. Pastels, floor-length lace gowns, pearls, dazzling jewels and feminine braids adorn the leading ladies within this film. Even the black gowns that drape the body of Maleficent are elegant. There are many moments within this film where the lighting is absolutely stunning.
My favorite scene is when an injured Maleficent drops down the tunnels of the secret, winged-creatures; and as she is falling down these dark tunnels, there is this luminous light that hits her body and illuminates the tunnel walls in the most elegant manner. From the textile bedding to the paintings on the palace walls, the set design is perfectly detailed. There are many moments where the tone and look of the movie are quite Gothic, yet there are other moments when the fairy-laced, colorful luscious gardens are quite exquisite and full of fancy.
There are many unexpected plot twists within this movie, and the ensemble cast includes a diverse tribe of talent. In this movie, there are many different and unique looking human, creatures and cartoon-like inhabitants that co-exist with The Moors. There is a major underlying theme of good versus evil, light versus dark and I found it very interesting that the secret society of dark, fallen angels or winged creatures were named after the real-life historic people, the Moors.
Speaking of which, the Moors live in the bowels of a humongous cave within the sky, or another dimension, that includes massive, rocky cliffs, intricately-designed tunnels created out of interwoven, inter-locking branches and vines and more. The dark-winged creatures bring to mind the notion of fallen angels. There is an interesting sub-narrative of these winged creatures and humans becoming ‘one’ tribe.
Under the direction of Joachim Ronning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Lies, Dooms Day), Elle Fanning’s Aurora continues to be the perfect juxtaposition to Jolie’s Maleficent. Though still very powerful, in this sequel we do get to see a softer side of Maleficent. In an endearing scene, as she preps to introduce herself to the king and queen, she shows a vulnerability and a desire to be cordial as she practices a formal greeting.
Despite, the depiction of Maleficent as a mother with maternal instincts, the fact that she is still a shape-shifting witch is to be noted. There are times throughout the movie, that Maleficent changes into monstrous-winged creatures indeed, and the imagery is sure to insight fear in younger audiences.
What Parents Need To Know About Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil Before Taking The Kids
Parents need to know that this film is not appropriate for preteens below the age of 12. This movie is laced with themes of witchcraft in the form of shape-shifting, transfiguration, controlling the physical elements and more. While this is a Disney animated film, there’s war, fighting, weaponry used and more. Be prepared to talk with your children about secret society and the underworld, good and evil and what makes a ‘real’ mother.
The cast includes: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Ed Skrein, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickinson, Brenton Thwaites , Jenn Murray, David Gyasi, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Robert Lindsay, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Judith Shekoni among others.
Maleficent premieres nationwide on this Friday October 18, 2019.