The first "Maleficent" film (2014) presented us with a re-imagined backstory behind the horned witch who was the villainess from the original "Sleeping Beauty" classic animated film (1959). Featuring Angelina Jolie as the title character with those computer-generated angular cheekbones, "Maleficent" was a big box office hit that year, hence five years later, a sequel was made and released.
Five years after the events of the first film, Aurora was now ruling as Queen of the Moors, the realm of fairies and various other magical creatures. One day, Prince Philip suddenly came and proposed marriage, which Aurora excitedly accepted. However, her godmother Maleficent was not thrilled at the prospect as she felt humans and fairies cannot coexist in peace. When a curse suddenly befell Philip's father King John, his mother Queen Ingrith accused Maleficent to be the one responsible.
The whole film tackled the touchy topic of world peace and unity, in this case between humans and fairies. To make matters more complicated, Maleficent discovered that there was an entire race of fairies called the Dark Fey, all winged and horned like her, who lived in an underground cave as refuge from human destruction. Warrior leader Borra (Ed Skrein) thought they should go to war with the humans, and diplomat leader Connal (Chiwetel Ejiofor) wanted to pursue more peaceful means.
Angelina Jolie was still in great form as Maleficent, with her nice vocal inflections which liven up her lines with rich personality. The prominence of her computer-generated cheekbones went overboard in a lot of scenes in this sequel. We get to see Maleficent without her head wrap, so we see her with her long black hair down, and confirm that those were really horns growing on her head, and not part of a headdress. We also get to see Maleficent's bare shoulders and legs in some unexpected skin-revealing scenes.
Elle Fanning was lovely and naive as ever as Aurora. Sam Riley was still very charming as the human form of Maleficent's pet crow, Diaval. Michelle Pfeiffer does a familiar turn as an over-the-top scheming Queen Ingrith. A new actor Harris Dickinson took over from Brenton Thwaites as Prince Philip, but was as bland as before. Even the animated Prince Philip was more dashing.as suitor or as royal. It was great to see '80s height-challenged actor Warwick Davis back in another fantasy creature Lickspittle, the alchemist pixie.
Apart from that fateful "meet-the-parents" dinner scene, I was only mildly enjoying the first two thirds of the film. The whole sequence of Maleficent fleeing from King John's castle all the way to the scenes in the Dark Fey caves was inordinately very dark. It was very difficult to see what was going on or which character was talking.
Thankfully, the final battle scenes were all shot in broad daylight to give the film a much-needed boost in the final act. Even then, the action and the logic there were more of the juvenile, Rated-G variety.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."