But while the script (credited to Woolverton and screenwriting duo Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue) is packed with problems, Mistress of Evil is consistently entertaining, even when it’s not particularly consistent. What the film lacks in cohesion, it makes up for in ambition, gumption, and heart. Ellen Mirojnick’s stunning costume design is worth the price of admission alone.
Mistress of Evil also proves Disney has found an all-time great on-screen duo in Jolie and Fanning. It never gets old, watching Maleficent’s dark, stormy ways contrast with her daughter’s sunny disposition. Though it’s a shame the plot separates Maleficent and Aurora for most of the film, it at least ensures the moments when they do come together land even harder.
And while Maleficent has been established as a franchise that cares first and foremost about women, it offers a warm celebration of male allyship via Sam Riley’s doting raven shapeshifter Diaval (as delightful here as he was in the first film) and an appreciably humble, good-natured take on Prince Phillip. After a run of live-action Disney remakes that mostly play things safe, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a much needed swing-for-the-fences dose of originality. It doesn’t always hit it out of the park, but it’s wickedly fun to watch it try.