Maleficent 2 : Snipers, Chemical Warfare, and Genocide

(This is The New Disney, Folks)


I think it’s safe to say that, after a decade of the MCU, Disney might have forgotten how to make fairytales at this point. This is particularly evident in the second Maleficent film, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which has a constant and pervading superhero movie undertone throughout its run-time. This undertone includes such memorable events as attempted assassination by a sniper, the fantasy equivalent of a VX gas attack organized by a bigoted dictator, an attempt by the said dictator to orchestrate a Game of Thrones style Red Wedding, and some very Marvel-esque flying fight scenes.

Angelina Jolie reprises her role as the eponymous dark fey queen of the fey forest known as the Moors, this time going up against Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Ingrith, the queen of the nearby human kingdom of Ulstead. The force that drives these two into direct conflict is that Aurora, Maleficent’s surrogate daughter, and Prince Phillip, Ingrith’s son, want to make their romance from the first film official by getting married. Needless to say, neither mother is too thrilled by the prospect of being the other’s in-law. Part of this is fueled by some classic border kingdom enmity: some fey have been abducted by some humans, some humans have been killed by some fey. This is the Medieval fantasy equivalent of neighborly spats over who lets their grass grow too high and who leaves their garbage cans out too long. But the real issue is that Ingrith is rabidly anti-fey, a David Duke-level bigot. She is quite happy to curse her husband, blame it on Maleficent, and seize the reigns of state. Hence the aforementioned chemical weapon attack, the sniper assassination attempt, the attempted genocidal massacre, and the flying smackdown Maleficent eventually lays on Ingrith. And quite frankly, it works. The visuals are great, the queen versus queen conflictof Jolie versus Pfeiffer is enjoyable, and the forms the conflict takes are interesting to see in a Disney movie.

Where the film fails is where it does not go far enough. Aurora has something of a storyline in discovering that life outside of the Moors comes with a lot of gender expectations with before, but her story is subservient to that of Jolie and Pfeiffer’s. Additionally, she lacks the autonomy that could make her a more interesting character. Moreover, Disney fails to properly tap into its Marvel aspects in the resolution, leaving it far too neat and clean to be truly satisfying.

All in all, 4 out of 5

Worth seeing in theaters.