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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil


Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam Riley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, Robert Lindsay, David Gyasi, Jenn Murray, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Warwick Davis

Director: Joachim Ronning

Disney delivers one of Hollywood's favourite genres - the sequel - with this splendid return to the magical world of their hit 2014 fantasy adventure decorated with Oscar-worthy special effects that create a memorable world populated by amazing fantasy creatures and towering Gothic cities, which serve as a magical background to a memorable fairy tale which, picking up the story several years after Maleficent, sees Pfeiffer wickedly plotting to ruin the forthcoming marriage of her son Phillip (prince of the adjacent kingdom of Ulstead) to Fanning's princess Aurora...

Screenwriters Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster and Fitzerman-Blue (working from Woolverton's inventive story) create a memorable make-believe world vividly brought to life by Ronning's deft direction that keeps the story moving without over-egging the magical aspects of the fantastic settings and all enjoyably potentiated by picture-perfect performances by Jolie (vividly endowed with razor-sharp cheekbones that could slice ham) in the title role (but could she really be that malevolent?) and Pfeiffer, just right in her unexpectedly evil character.

When Pfeiffer states 'I told you, this is no fairy tale', she's right in context. That said, the film is a memorable magic treat populated with fairy-tale characters, human and fantastical.

It's that rare pleasure, a follow-up that's unexpectedly (given the all-too-frequent appearance of optimistic but ultimately sadly bloodless sequels) as entertaining and inventive as the original.

Alan Frank

USA/UK 2019. UK Distributor: Disney. Colour.
119 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Oct 2019