“Well well…” – let’s talk Disney.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, or Maleficent 2, hit UK cinemas on Friday 18th October, 5 years after the eponymous first film was released. Despite reportedly ‘bombing’ in US box office hits on the opening weekend, it seems that this sequel has saved face in overseas views – or saved horns, if you will.
Unlike the second, the first film was limited by factual constraints. The first film gives an insight into Maleficent’s complex past and explains her path to the epitome of evil she reaches in the 1959 Disney animated classic, Sleeping Beauty, when she curses Aurora at her christening. In the production of the second, however, the creators had more freedom, both in the storyline and the character protectories. And, of course, our craving to see more of the unconventional yet heart-warming relationship between villain (Angelina Jolie) and princess (Elle Fanning) is satisfied.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil picks up some years later with Aurora, who is now ‘Queen of the Moors’, receiving a marriage proposal from the gallant Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). This, of course, is much to Maleficent’s displeasure, fearing this may affect her close relationship with Aurora.
This displeasure heightens when the newest protagonist, Phillip’s icy mother Queen Ingris (Michelle Pfeiffer) enrages her at a celebratory dinner. Pfeiffer’s power-obsessed character boldly claims that they – she and King John – consider Aurora to be theirs. Maleficent – who would seriously benefit from some anger management classes – flees in a rage, engulfed in green flames, this sparking her journey in the film, where she discovers more of her kind: the ‘dark fey’.
It may come as a surprise that it was actually one of Jolie’s children who inspired the backstory of the ‘dark fey’. With some pre-production meetings being hosted at Jolie’s house, her six children were frequent passersbys. Director, Joachim Rønning, revealed that on one particular day they hit a creative brick wall on how to differentiate the factions of the dark fey. During this meeting, one of Jolie’s daughters returned home from school with her science project on biomes found in nature. They were immediately inspired – the four different factions would be: the tundra fey, the forest fey, the jungle fey and the desert fey. Whilst details like these may not be obvious in the film, it is these carefully thought-through elements which give the Maleficent storyline such depth.
One relationship which certainly has a lot of depth is that between Aurora and her mother-figure, Maleficent, which evolves further in this film than the first. Though hard to believe, Fanning was just 14 when signing on to the original film and this time round, in promotional interviews, she mentioned how being older now (Fanning was 21 in the sequel) had an effect on both the character Aurora and her as an actress. In filming the sequel, she felt like she was able to stand alongside Jolie and Pfeiffer as an adult and a strong woman, an aspect which was impossible to portray in the first film considering both her youth and novelty to the industry.
This film comprises so many layers, both in the characters and the plot and whilst in many ways it concludes in a satisfactory way, one thing is certain: you can never have enough Angelina Jolie. Maleficent 3, anyone?
Photo Credit: Forbes.