The first Maleficent motion picture wrote the revisionist history of probably the greatest Disney villain of all time, Maleficent. The Mistress of Evil's (Angelina Jolie) story was woven into a relatable tale of pity and that platonic love is just as prized as that of romantic. The recently released sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, circumvents the difference between that of the retelling and the original animated classic "Sleeping Beauty" by crossing the line with real world issues, while managing to maintain a feeling of nostalgia.
In the first installment, the world of fairies and world of humans found a peaceful resolution by way of Aurora (Elle Fanning), whose ancestry from the strongest fairy, Maleficent, and a recently deceased human parent (Sharlto Copley) conquered any hindrance. The second installment in the Maleficent series directed by Joachim Ronning, director of "Dead Man's Chest" of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series fame, adds a human realm to make harmony with in order to stir up a little more conflict.
Prince Phillip's (Harris Dickinson) proposal to Aurora, announced to Maleficent by her familiar Diaval (Sam Riley) sets the couple up for drama, all centered around an occasion that should be cause for great celebration but ends up being anything but such. In order to celebrate the couple's announcement, Maleficent is invited to supper to meet the prince's family, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). Metaphorically flaunting arguably the largest villain flag since Lex Luthor, Maleficent's pauses while speaking to the royal family add a depth of tone that can only be described as evil. Queen Ingrith gets her so angry that supper transforms into just another portrayal of Maleficent's wrath. Shortly after, King John becomes sick, and the realm promptly wages war on the Mistress of Evil.
The film's romantic comedy tropes are quickly forgotten because of the plot's increasingly dramatic twists and turns burdened with a political agenda that thrusts the differences between fairy and human to the forefront. Queen Ingrith orders what can only can be described as genocide against the fairies, causing them to to back into the lifeless things that the fairies draw their inspiration from. The endeavored destruction is something more startling than what one would normally anticipate from Disney. Watching a room brimming with animals battling as they are afflicted with a poisonous powder seems to be an eery parallel with those tortures executed by Nazi Germany against the Jewish people during World War II.
Whether through its unwillingness or design, this film cannot cover up the way that the dark fae with horns and wings like Maleficent, portrayed by actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein, are intended to symbolize all non-white individuals and disenfranchised groups. Aurora, Prince Phillip, Queen Ingrith and other humans in the film are generally caucasian, tending toward a colonialist narrative that is perhaps unusually resolved before the conclusion of the film. It is difficult subject material for a children's movie to handle, making it obvious that the director never quite hits the mark on how to portray it effectively.
Pfeiffer doesn't have any comic material to work with, instead submitting completely to villainy. Her performance is an ideal foil to Jolie as her presentation of Queen Ingrith is sharp while Jolie's is smooth, seeping the lethal energy she had in her previous role of Mrs. Smith in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith". There's something wonderful about watching both on screen, portraying world-exhausted women who have lived long enough not to trust aimlessly in others while attempting to manage the innocence of their children, all while feigning exacerbation when they repeatedly propose "true love" as the reason for this war.
After all, if the two didn't cite "true love", the film wouldn't truly be a Disney masterpiece.