I had a film review in the bag from Dublin, but for an exotic change here’s one filed all the way from a holiday in London instead, where a certain blockbuster sequel has winged its way to Leicester Square.
And a holiday (from reality) somewhere truly exotic (a dark fantasy land) is once again the order of the day for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Cert 12A, 119 mins), the somewhat unnecessary sequel to the smash-hit 2014 film.
While it won’t surprise anyone that the Hollywood bean counters have delivered a slightly tardy sequel, the film’s approach is something that won’t please everyone.
Much as with the eponymous first film, human relationships and emotion, filtered through an otherworldly being’s frame of reference, are at the heart of Mal 2 (a title shortcut I trust you’ll forgive).
Now fully grown up, the human princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) plans to marry her true love, Philip (Henry Dickinson), and needs but her fairy godmother Maleficent’s (Angelina Jolie) blessing and support to get her own fairytale ending.
Fat chance of that, however, as the same tensions between the human and fairy world that underpinned the first film are very much at the heart of this film.
Indeed, a bitter falling out between Maleficent and the prince’s wary parents soon has the mutual intense distrust held by the human and magical realms for each other spiralling out of control.
In short, war beckons – a war that, this time, fairies and even Maleficent herself can’t overcome.
As the Mal 2 trailers – again giving away too much – have revealed, Maleficent soon discovers other creatures similar to herself who hint at a greater destiny than even she had expected.
The stakes couldn’t be any higher, with war between the realms, a dark destiny to discover, and Aurora’s future happiness at stake…
That’s a good chunk of the film’s plot to chuck in; more than I’d prefer, but the trailers, ah, the trailers…
There’s a lot more than this to take in, but it’s too much, frankly, for what should have stayed a relatively simple tale about Maleficent’s growth as a character, or deeper development.
Instead, there’s a reliance on ugly CG violence and battles that detract, sometimes confusingly, from the core narrative at the heart of the film.
As Maleficent, Jodie is again great, and there’s some pretty solid support work here across the board.
However, bored is what you could be, because this dark, muddled mess isn’t quite worth getting in a flap over.
Despite the cast’s best efforts, this overcooked sequel is just missing the magic of the first film, and isn’t fairy well done….
- Verdict: 5/10