New to On Demand and DVD: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

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It’s never fun to start a review to a sequel with this comment: “Did we really need a sequel to this movie?” But I have to admit my true feeling and related skepticism when sitting down with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, as when I left Maleficent I had no desire to see any kind of resumption of the story.

Despite my total and complete apathy at there being a sequel released, I left my night with the Mistress of Evil in delight, as I actually enjoyed the sequel, maybe even more so than the original. I know; that last comment made me gasp as well.

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) returns to her role as guardian of the Moors and the protector of the young Aurora (Elle Fanning). The relationship between Aurora and the handsome Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) has progressed to the next level, and Phillip can think of only one thing: making Aurora his bride. One slight problem with the possibility of a wedding — Maleficent and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) are not the best of friends.

But they progress forward and King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith invite Maleficent to the castle for a cordial dinner, a dinner that poses challenges for both of the women. Despite the kids’ love for each other, neither woman quite wants the marriage to happen. But can they get along?

Sinister things are afoot in the castle, but the evil that lurks may not be coming from Maleficent alone, as bringing together two sets of mortal enemies means changing years of history.

I left the original film with a sort of indifferent feeling. It was a beautiful spectacle but nothing else. And I was somewhat shocked that when the lights came up after Mistress of Evil concluded, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Although this film started slowly, and I lowered my expectations a bit more, I was surprised that the sequel built to a solid third act that left me with a pleasant aftertaste.

Jolie is delicious in her role as Maleficent. It feels like she embodies everything about the stylish villain in tone, mannerisms and every possible way. I loved seeing Pfeiffer go toe-to-toe with Jolie onscreen and both women exuding a true professionalism that only added to the fairy tale.

But this film’s slow start hurts and may drive viewers away at an early stage — if you slog through that early pace, a treat of a third act is coming.

My warning is for the parents of young children. Although rated PG, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil feels more like a PG-13 film at minimum. It is scary and dark and may be too much to handle for those under 8-10 years old. Older kids will be fine, but I just want to be straightforward with this aspect of the film.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil takes a step forward and is a rare case of a sequel actually being a touch better than the original. Sure, I could be evil and dwell on the negatives here, but I’m happy about my time spent with Maleficent.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is available On Demand and on DVD beginning Jan. 14. Check your cable system for availability.