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Angelina Jolie is one of the last movie stars, although in recent years, Hollywood has seemed mostly unable to fashion projects that would demonstrate why. Her work as Maleficent, the bad queen from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," is a reminder of how electrifying and fun she can be. 

Jolie first played the part in 2014's " Maleficent ," a live-action (but thoroughly CGI'd) fantasy drama that reimagined the story from the character's point-of-view, ultimately treating her as more of a volatile antihero enacting grievances upon the land than a straight-up villain who existed to do mean things and be vanquished. Her razor-sharp prosthetic cheekbones, elegant horns, and velvety wings seem to spring organically from the sorts of roles Jolie played before she took a sharp left turn into more neutered or saintly roles in the mid-aughts—particularly the title character in HBO's "Gia," and the Jack Nicholson-like rebel she played in the mental hospital drama " Girl, Interrupted " (winning an Oscar in the process). Her Maleficent voice channels old movie stars (Joan Crawford especially), and she's never more delightful than when the character is trying to keep her witchiness under wraps and failing.

The sequel "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" would seem like a perfect complement to the first film, because it's built around a clash between Jolie and another great '80s and '90s star, Michelle Pfeiffer . But having set up this potentially juicy conflict, and having detailed a scenario that would put it front-and-center while deepening Maleficent's relationship with her human goddaughter Aurora ( Elle Fanning ), the movie repeatedly fails to get out of its own way. The result is a disappointment that's more crushing than an outright bad movie would be. The original, despite its flaws, had moments of primal power and deep understanding of what drives people, qualities that are mostly lacking here.

Pfeiffer plays Queen Ingrith, the mother of Prince Phillip ( Harris Dickinson ), a human royal from a nearby kingdom who wants to marry Aurora. Aurora and Phillip see their impending union as a "bridge" joining the human kingdom and the magical creatures who live on the moors under the protection of Aurora and Maleficent (a bit of a " Shrek "-y touch here). 

Unfortunately for both of them, and for everybody else, Ingrith is a genocidal hatemonger. The animosity between the two sides is larded with vague references to racist and genocidal regimes throughout history, as well as the current border crisis in the United States. Ingrith is furious when her husband, King John ( Robert Lindsay ), asks her to cease her nonstop invective and be on her best behavior during an engagement dinner at their castle. 

The long scene that follows is a high point for all of the actors, with resentments bubbling up even when everyone involved is trying to make peace. All of Ingrith's choices are calculated to inflame Maleficent, from serving squab (which requires one winged creature to eat another) to furnishing the table with utensils made of iron (according to the mythology established here, faeries are allergic to iron).

But the script doesn't seem willing or able to escalate tension gradually, so that we can savor the characters' psychology and the actors' mostly sharp performances and feel as if this Disney sequel is trying to get at something deep and true rather than just take money from people who liked the first movie. The dinner becomes an instant disaster that leads to a state of open warfare. Maleficent gets back in touch with the faeries who used to live openly all over the world until human hatred and violence drove them literally underground, where they live in a series of caverns and tunnels. The scenes between Maleficent and her lost fellow winged creatures are sincerely staged by filmmaker Joachim Rønning ,  who co-directed "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," particularly Maleficent's prolonged entrance to the kingdom though a series of spiraling tunnels; but once they're all gathered together, discussing grievances and plans, the film starts to feel like one of those big-budget cable or streaming fantasies that has more money than imagination. At least  Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein make a strong impression as, respectively, a sensible and cautious character and a rebel hothead.

The stage is set for a clash of armies, with the winged creatures trying to figure out how to penetrate a perimeter guarded by huge crossbows loaded with iron bolts. The final war feels more like a Marvel CGI mayhem-fest or a battle episode of "Game of Thrones" than anything in the traditional Disney animated canon, and the lead-up expends prodigious amounts of time on court intrigue (including the question of whether a major character was poisoned, and by whom) that could have been more usefully spent on continuing to develop the major characters. 

Worse, the story seems incapable of dealing with the issues that it makes a point of raising. Ingrith's racism (species-ism?) marks her as a villain, one seemingly driven mad with rage, but we know from real life that even if we hate people who hold these views, they're still members of a family, and that makes the dynamics in the household complicated and painful for everybody else. The movie gives little thought to what the war does to Phillip, whose own mother is the architect of the clash, and only slightly more thought to Aurora, who seems a bit quick to accept that the surrogate mother who raised and protected her must be taken out of the picture for the greater good, or so that the wedding can go forward. (It's clear that Ingrith only wants the wedding to proceed so that she can have an excuse to, in the words of Kurtz in "Heart of Darkness," "Exterminate all the brutes.") The climactic settling of scores is particularly cowardly in this respect: Ingrith all but vanishes from the movie, saving the filmmakers the trouble of dealing with anything more complex than "bad lady who did bad things is not a threat to the nice people anymore." 

What went wrong? At some point maybe we'll get the full story, but this certainly looks like a case where a hit property was retooled in hopes that it could appeal to a wider demographic (i.e. boys who sometimes get antsy when a story concentrates too much on marriage, love, family and all that icky stuff). The screenplay is credited to "Beauty and the Beast" writer Linda Woolverton and the team of Micha Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster , and the placement implies that the latter rewrote the former. 

But whatever the ratio of good ideas to bad, and regardless of where each bit came from, the result is a cascade of mostly unremarkable live-action fantasy imagery, a jumble of textures and colors and cliched camera movements (like the opening "helicopter shot" flying over the realm, which is exactly how every other movie like this begins). The character designs are lackluster, too: the humanoid animals, the big-eyed "cute" characters seemingly modeled on Hayao Miyazki's woodland creatures, and the borderline-creepy uncanny valley residents who are kinda-human-ish, all lack the spark of personality that Disney's old-school animators could have produced with pen and ink. ( Imelda Staunton ,  Lesley Manville and Juno Temple , who play three good faeries who function a bit like the mice in "Cinderella," somehow seem even more rubbery and toylike than in the first film.)

Worst of all, the movie fails to give Jolie the star vehicle she richly deserves, limiting her screen time in favor of new characters that aren't as interesting, and increasingly conveying her most important relationship, with Aurora, in throwaway dialogue and bits of visual shorthand. The relationship between a fearsome and misunderstood mother with her daughter during the run-up to her wedding should've been the heart of the picture, not all this sub-Tolkien scheming and military strategizing. There are a few striking moments, such as Phillip's first appearance, which is framed through the makeshift iris of Aurora holding up her crown, and a climactic exchange of looks between Aurora and her mother. But it all feels rushed-through and improperly considered, like a fairy tale told to a child by a grownup who's tired and bored and just wants to go to bed.

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of RogerEbert.com, TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

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Film Credits

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil movie poster

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

119 minutes

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent

Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora

Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith

Harris Dickinson as Prince Phillip

Juno Temple as Thistlewit

Teresa Mahoney as Dinner Servant

Sam Riley as Diaval

  • Joachim Rønning
  • Linda Woolverton
  • Noah Harpster
  • Micah Fitzerman-Blue

Director of Photography

  • Henry Braham
  • Laura Jennings

Original Music Composer

  • Geoff Zanelli

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil delivers Mamma Mia! for Game of Thrones fans

Angelina Jolie returns as one of Disney’s greatest villains

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The first Maleficent movie wrapped up the revisionist history of one of Disney’s biggest villains, turning Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) into a tragic figure and true love’s kiss into an expression of maternal love. Disney’s sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil , gets around the problem that there’s no real story by shedding almost every connection to the original Sleeping Beauty , crossing high fantasy with hijinks-filled romantic comedy, and adding in just a sprinkle of self-insert wish fulfillment.

Last we saw, the fairy and human kingdoms were peacefully united by Aurora (Elle Fanning), whose lineage from a fairy (god-)mother, Maleficent and a now-deceased human father (Sharlto Copley) bridged the gap. Mistress of Evil , directed by Joachim Rønning ( Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ), adds another human kingdom to make peace with for the sake of a teensy more geopolitical conflict.

When Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), a pair of cheekbones granted human life, proposes to Aurora, Maleficent is invited to dinner to meet his parents, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). Showing off some of the clearest villain signalling since Michael Keaton in Dumbo — long pauses have never been so sinister — Ingrith gets the fairy queen so riled up that dinner turns into yet another tale of Maleficent’s balefulness. John falls ill and the kingdom immediately takes up arms.

Queen Ingrith (Pfeiffer), bedecked in pearls, sits in a regal chair.

The movie’s rom-com-isms soon fall away to make room for more typical fantasy epic hijinks, albeit with the kind of clunky political signalling familiar to anyone who endured Bright . Ingrith wants to wipe out the fairies — who, in one of the film’s better visual tricks, “die” by reverting into the inanimate objects that inspired them — and the attempted genocide is a little more frightening than you’d expect from Disney fare. Watching a room full of creatures struggle as they’re bombarded with poison powder feels more akin to a war movie than it probably should.

Good intentions (or maybe just ambition) don’t smooth over the way that the remnants of the dark fae — Maleficent’s kin, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein with horns and wings — are coded to symbolize all people of color and similarly marginalized groups. Aurora, Phillip, Ingrith and other “humans” in the film are otherwise Eurocentric, leaning into a colonialist and imperialist narrative that is maybe a little too easily tied up by the end of the film. There’s even a character who briefly touches upon the sometimes-difficult nature of regime collaborators. It’s heavy material for a children’s fantasy film to tackle, which makes it unsurprisingly that it doesn’t really manage to do it well.

The political themes are pointed but unwieldy, unlike the rom-com elements of the film, which are superbly done fluff. Jolie cuts a striking figure as Maleficent, and dispenses the character’s sly bon mots with a campy, cartoonish glee that fits perfectly with her 2D origins. Simply put, she’s funny, practicing her “hello” by watching her reflection in a pond so she doesn’t end up scaring Phillip’s parents, or needling her right-hand man, the raven-turned-human Diaval (Sam Riley).

Maleficent (Jolie) looks fondly at Aurora (Elle Fanning in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Pfeiffer doesn’t have any comic material to work with, but commits fully to villainy, serving as a perfect foil to Jolie; her performance is sharp where Jolie’s is smooth, devoting the dangerous energy she had as Catwoman to making declarations of war. There’s something delightful about watching the two of them, world-weary women who have lived long enough not to trust blindly in other people, try to deal with the naïveté of their respective children, rolling their eyes when they once again suggest true love as a panacea. (Based on the title, it should come as no surprise that Phillip and Aurora are zeroes.)

The separate parts of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil don’t quite gel together, with the back half departing from cheerful Disney territory to the fan vision of a Maleficent devotee’s DeviantArt page. So many fairy variants (fae from tropical regions have macaw wings, which, fine), so many shots of Maleficent that could serve as Evanescence album covers. The film is still, however, leaps and bounds more imaginative than most other recent live-action Disney fare, packed with strange creatures and fun performances that at least distract from (if not alleviate) the film’s clumsy attempts at political allegory.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opens in theaters on Oct. 18.

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Review: Angelina Jolie's 'Maleficent 2' is like a dark and magical 'Meet the Fockers'

movie review of maleficent 2

Love, war and Angelina Jolie ’s supernaturally sharp cheekbones mark “ Maleficent: Mistress of Evil ,” a Disney sequel that carries over some welcome magic from the refreshing original.

This continuation of a reimagined “Sleeping Beauty” leans into “Meet the Fockers” territory, with vicious staredowns between future mothers-in-law , plus expands its own fairy-tale landscape. And where there are the occasional lighthearted high jinks, the second “Maleficent” (★★★ out of four; rated PG; in theaters nationwide Friday) harbors a surprisingly stygian side just as dark as its title antiheroine’s horns of plenty.

The new movie picks up five years after the 2014 live-action adaptation when Maleficent, reformed villain and protector of the magical Moors, saved the day and embraced her role as godmother to Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning).

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Since then, Aurora has been installed as queen of the Moors, where her “people” are legions of fairies and large tree dudes, and she gets an exciting wedding proposal from boyfriend Phillip (Harris Dickinson), prince of the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead. Maleficent is displeased with the news – not only is she not a big fan of humankind in general, but she’s very protective of Aurora.

Still, because she loves her adopted daughter, Maleficent accepts an invite to a royal meet-the-parents shindig and even wears a shawl to hide her horns. Phillip’s dad King John (Robert Lindsay) is all about brokering peace between the Moors and Ulstead, though not his wife Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), the kind of ice queen who doesn’t let anything go.

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Chilly zingers and side-eye daggers are unleashed by the two forceful moms, the dinner party turns disastrous when the king gets mysteriously cursed, Aurora sides with Phillip’s parents, and Maleficent flies off only to be wounded by Ingrith’s sinister little henchwoman Gerda (Jenn Murray). Ingrith sets her megalomaniacal plans in motion, while Maleficent is nursed back to health by a legion of Dark Fey just like her who hide from mankind.

Jolie’s magnetism, plus the way she toes the line between being a fairy version of Batman and a menacing mistress of not-quite-evil-but-pretty-close, is why these “Maleficent” movies work. She fits the character as well as her endless cycle of evolving costumes.

And she gets quite the foil in Pfeiffer’s Ingrith: Her badness is very on the nose – she snaps a mannequin’s neck sideways to enter her secret hidden hair – yet it’s fun to see the two A-list actresses chowing down on fantasy scenery. Jolie’s character even fluffs her wings like a peacock in an effort to be the alpha female.

The movie overall could use more subtlety, from the dialogue (“sleeping beauty” is a phrase used more than once) to the emphasis on intolerance (Ulsteadians bring pitchforks to greet magical folks) to a definite in-your-face darkness. True, the first "Maleficent" had its lead character's wings horrifyingly ripped off, but “Mistress of Evil” hinges on a genocidal plot to murder any and all fairy creatures, which might not be totally kosher for some little kids.

Director Joachim Ronning (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”) does a good job crafting an expansive magical world, adding to it the wondrous underground caves and land of the Dark Fey. Maleficent learns more of her origins among her people – who mainly look like hot models in wings and war paint – while having her own conflicted feelings reflected in a couple of Dark Fey dudes, the battle-ready Borra (Ed Skrein) and the thoughtful Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor). 

While it can’t escape some of the inherent tropes, “Mistress of Evil” ventures past the usual “happily ever after” rigmarole to craft a tale of parents and kids thematically similar to those Disney Channel “Descendants” teen movies: There’s a fine line between hero and villain, and it’s OK to be a little bad sometimes.

Just don’t be an evil queen, which is a life lesson for us all.

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Michelle Pfeiffer, Angelina Jolie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elle Fanning, Ed Skrein, and Harris Dickinson in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark n... Read all Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play. Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.

  • Joachim Rønning
  • Linda Woolverton
  • Noah Harpster
  • Micah Fitzerman-Blue
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Elle Fanning
  • Harris Dickinson
  • 774 User reviews
  • 227 Critic reviews
  • 43 Metascore
  • 1 win & 11 nominations total

Official Trailer

  • Prince Philip

Michelle Pfeiffer

  • Queen Ingrith

Sam Riley

  • Shrike (Jungle)

Miyavi

  • Udo (Tundra)

Kae Alexander

  • Ini (Desert)

Warwick Davis

  • Lickspittle
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  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

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Maleficent

Did you know

  • Trivia Released on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the original Sleeping Beauty (1959) .
  • Goofs Diaval appears uncomfortable with being served poultry, presumably due to him actually being a raven. However, ravens do sometimes eat other birds, so he shouldn't have an issue with it.

Diaval : Mistress.

Maleficent : What?

Diaval : I have a little bit of news.

Maleficent : Well, on with it.

Diaval : It's nothing of any real consequence, and it's certainly no reason to overreact. It's just that... Prince Phillip has, um...

Maleficent : Disappeared?

Diaval : [chuckles] No. No, Phillip has...

Maleficent : Yellow fever? No, wait--leprosy!

Diaval : No, Mistress. Prince Phillip has asked Aurora if, she'll become his...

Maleficent : *Don't* - ruin my morning!

[flies away to try and talk Aurora out of Phillip's marriage proposal]

Diaval : Mistress, please! Stay calm!

  • Crazy credits On the international trailers, against a daytime sky, we see Maleficent's castle in the 2011 Disney logo. The camera zooms in and later tilts 90° counterclockwise. The US, Canadian, and YouTube versions of the trailer still use the normal logo. Meanwhile on the actual film, as the 2011 Disney logo finishes, the camera moves in an upper right direction, panning away from the logo.
  • Alternate versions The film's IMAX release presented the film open-matte, at an aspect ratio of 1.90:1, meaning there was more picture information visible in the top and bottom of the frame than in normal theaters and on home video.
  • Connections Featured in AniMat's Crazy Cartoon Cast: Maleficent: Mistress of Lies (2019)
  • Soundtracks You Can't Stop the Girl Written by Bebe Rexha (as Bleta Rexha), Alex Schwartz , Joe Khajadourian , Michael Pollack , Nate Cyphert , Evan Sult , Aaron Huffman , Jeff Lin , and Sean Nelson Orchestral Arrangement by Geoff Zanelli Produced by The Futuristics Performed by Bebe Rexha Courtesy of Warner Records [The closing credits song]

User reviews 774

  • Oct 16, 2019
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  • October 18, 2019 (United States)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Official Site
  • Stream Maleficent: Mistress of Evil officially on Disney+ Hotstar Indonesia
  • Tiên Hắc Ám 2
  • Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
  • Walt Disney Pictures
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $185,000,000 (estimated)
  • $113,929,605
  • $36,948,713
  • Oct 20, 2019
  • $491,730,089

Technical specs

  • Runtime 1 hour 59 minutes
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Dolby Digital
  • Dolby Surround 7.1
  • IMAX 6-Track
  • 12-Track Digital Sound

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Maleficent 2 review: Does the Mistress of Evil break the live-action curse?

By chloe gronow | oct 19, 2019.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

Familiar characters brought to life in an unfamiliar story is what makes Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Disney’s best live-action movie of the year.

Caution: There are spoilers in this post from  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

“Don’t ruin my morning.” In a year dominated by big-screen retellings of animated masterpieces, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  tries very hard to live up to the title character’s first spoken words with this fresh take on a centuries-old fairy tale.

Angelina Jolie assumes the role of the powerful sorceress Maleficent — a cast out fae presumed to be the last of her kind. Maleficent is the godmother to recently crowned Queen Aurora of the Moors (Elle Fanning), who rules over the forest kingdom and all of its inhabitant creatures.

This relationship was the backbone of the original  Maleficent  and will prove no different here in the sequel. When Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) proposes marriage to Aurora, it throws a wrench in her relationship with Maleficent that we see spiral out of control as the movie progresses.

Maleficent

In an ironic fashion,  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil   excels in spite of lackluster source material. Abandoning the humdrum and outdated themes at the core of the original Sleeping Beauty fairy tale was an excellent decision on director Joachim Rønning’s behalf.

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As always, Jolie steals the show. She effortlessly walks the tightrope between villain and victim. She puts on a wide-ranging emotional display; whether she’s going for threatening, vulnerable or detached, if nothing else it’s always convincing.

Fortunately, a star-studded cast of new additions arrives just in time to help Jolie pull the weight of this film’s dramatic set pieces this time around. Queen Ingrith ( Michelle Pfieffer ) plays the primary antagonist and is instrumental in moving the plot forward through her conniving schemes. Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Borra (Ed Skrein) also provide an interesting dialogue on morality that ushers Maleficent to further develop as a character.

Speaking of morality,  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  is surprisingly earnest for a genre usually reserved for children. Maleficent is confronted with the dilemma of choosing between compassion or vengeance that hits right on the nose of real-life current events. Outside of Aurora and Ingrith, the film is jam-packed with morally grey characters that make understandable yet conflicting decisions that ultimately drives the plot towards the epic final battle.

Maleficent

And epic it certainly was.  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  put every cent of its massive $180 million budget to good use. It really goes to show just how far film has advanced as a whole when a second-rate Disney franchise still manages to have beautiful animation that would appear impossible just ten years ago.

From aesthetically pleasing pixie dust bombs that substitute for pyrotechnics, to gorgeous costume design that really helps flesh out the movie’s newly implemented high fantasy element, to adorable animated creatures that will surely steal the show for younger audiences, it’s clear that a lot of love and effort was put into making this a polished product.

But just like any true love, it has its flaws. Despite being the title character, it didn’t always feel like a Maleficent movie. Fanning left a lot to be desired as Aurora, leaving the impression I had played a better Sleeping Beauty upon the film’s conclusion.

The climactic church scene also built up the tension just to fall flat on its face, while the cartoonish Gerda (Jenn Murray) does her best Looney Tunes impression while plummeting to her presumptive death from the organ. But despite its flaws,  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  gets a lot more right than it does wrong.

From the cute critters of the forest to the fae army being concerned with civilian casualties in the midst of a full-on invasion, almost every side character is endearing in their own way. The film also does a commendable job at avoiding generic fantasy tropes and actually shows an inkling of combat sense and logic during the extravagant final battle (looking at you  Game of Thrones ).

dark. Next. We don't need a dark Clueless reboot

Just like a phoenix rising from the ashes,  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  does its best to make something out of nothing. At its core, it’s a wicked turn of the tables on a childhood story that certainly never fails to entertain. While it doesn’t pack a bigger punch than the other villain-centric movie released this month, it is worth a watch regardless.

Final Verdict: 7.5/10

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  is available to watch in theaters now!

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil Review

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil

18 Oct 2019

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil

The first Maleficent was a magnificently designed, too-densely plotted piece of fairy-tale revisionism, one that — just about — managed to redeem a character who cursed an infant. The good news is that this sequel has a better bad guy, Michelle Pfeiffer 's Queen Ingrith, who gives us a gloriously hateable rival to balance Jolie ’s imperious anti-heroine. There’s still a lot of work for a film that should really be for kids, but at least this builds to a genuinely epic conclusion.

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil

First, however, we have to wade through some syrupy scenes. Aurora ( Fanning ) is now Queen of the Moors, the mistitled name of a mystical and mountainous fairyland, and she and Maleficent are concerned with the hunt for some kidnapped fairies. But when Prince Phillip ( Dickinson , taking over from Brenton Thwaites) proposes, Aurora must bring her scary godmother to dinner with the in-laws: King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith. It goes, as you might expect, disastrously for the wary, defensive fairy.

Maleficent ends up wounded and rescued by other 'dark fae' like herself, a remnant colony led by Chiwetel Ejiofor 's Conall and Ed Skrein 's more warlike Borra. There are hints of a love triangle but no more than hints: this film is far too interested in the insipid Aurora's attempts to figure out who is behind the plot, something that the audience knows from minute one.

It's refreshing and a little radical to see two armies led by women over 30.

Incoming director Joachim Rønning ensures that it all looks gorgeous, and costume designer Ellen Mirojnick ( The Greatest Showman ) does stunning work for Jolie and Pfeiffer in particular, one in high-fashion slink and the other armoured in white and pearls. But once again the plot is over-stuffed; too many scenes focus on cutesy fairy folk, and the competing philosophies of the two dark fae men are not always distinct. It’s sad because Maleficent herself is interesting, always at war with her own tendency to distrust, to attack, to lash out. In the same way that Frozen ’s Elsa chimed with little children struggling to control their feelings, this anti-heroine can be magnetic when she’s given a chance to hold the screen.

The good news is that it all builds to a gigantic struggle for the future of both kingdoms, as Ingrith lays out a surprisingly familiar theory of government and Maleficent finds a point of balance between trust and safety. It's refreshing and a little radical to see two armies led by women over 30 (even Ingrith’s chief hench-person is female), however magical their surroundings, and Rønning orchestrates the fight beautifully. Fanning even manages to occasionally find something useful for Aurora to do: no mean feat in a character essentially designed to be a simpering blank.

But you still wish that the filmmakers would trust in their leading lady to hold the attention, and slow down a little bit in order to give her a few more character beats. Let Maleficent be Maleficent, and revel in her goth greatness.

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movie review of maleficent 2

Maleficent 2 Review: Powerful But Plotty

  • October 15, 2019

Picture of Tatiana Hullender

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil boasts everything that made its predecessor so popular. Strong and complex female leads, a beautiful mother-daughter bond, eye-popping visuals, a magical spindle that puts someone to sleep, and much more.

Perhaps too much more, one might argue, as the story becomes rather expansive. Considering how simple and straightforward the first Maleficent was, it’s something of a surprise. But it’s not entirely a bad thing, as everything storyline carries a similar message. Namely, that our differences make us stronger as long as we band together with love.

Maleficent Expands Its Magical Cast

maleficent mistress of evil ingrith

The best addition to the Maleficent mythos is undoubtedly Prince Phillip’s (Harris Dickinson) family – especially his haughty mother Queen Ingrith, played to perfection by Michelle Pfeiffer. Her catty face-offs with Maleficent could rival an Austenian parlor room scene, and slips between sweet and sinister with ease. Furthemore, introducing biological parent-child relationship of such a different nature further sets up what makes Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Aurora’s (Elle Fanning) relationship so special.

Speaking of Phillip, though, the recasting of Brenton Thwaites was quite disconcerting at first and made me wish he didn’t have to be on Titans . But Dickinson imbues him with a naive charm at makes Aurora’s affection for him believable while also explaining how he doesn’t know the first thing about his own kingdom. The romance with Aurora is at the forefront of Mistress of Evil , but Linda Woolverton and her fellow screenwriters take care not to let it overshadow Maleficent’s motherhood as the central love story.

Another highlight of the sequel is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s turn as Conall, a Dark Fae who introduces Maleficent to a whole new world and plot point. His chemistry with Jolie was off the charts, and could easily have provided Disney with a second romance for the film. Alas, his role was primarily that of peacemaker and Cassandra truth-sayer, but he performed it admirably. It’s just too bad that the legend and origin of the Dark Fae was lost amidst all the other stories in Mistress of Evil .

So Many Stories, So Little Time

maleficent mistress of evil conall

The trailers focused on the Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner -esque plot of Maleficent meeting Aurora’s future in-laws, and with good reason. But while the tense pre-wedding arrangements set the stage for the whole film, there are several subplots buzzing about at the same time.

Some dovetail with the A-story, such as the mystery of who’s been kidnapping fae folks from the Moors. Others set Maleficent down a new path entirely, such as the land of Dark Fae she never existed. But in trying to reconcile all the puzzle pieces, director Joachim Rønning finds himself dealing with a canvas that is not unlike Game of Thrones in scope. Thus, it would be better paced over the course of a 10 episode season than a 2 hour film.

Though Maleficent spends a long stretch of time in the Fae Underworld, it never feels like we get to know any of the characters aside from Conall and Borra (Ed Skrein). Skrein does his best with what he’s given, but Borra never surpasses generic warmonger who isn’t yet beyond seeing the light. And for the Moor characters fans got to know in the first film, they are more often than not reduced to cameos or pawns in the human vs. fairy conflict which doesn’t simmer so much as suddenly explode.

Due to the compressed nature of Mistress of Evil , a few threads are either left dangling or resolved in a hackneyed way. Broken families have no opportunity to mend, mass murdered are welcomed into the fold without a second thought, and wars can begin or end of the basis of one good speech. Despite this, the themes of the story come across loud and clear, and Disney’s new take on the Aurora/Maleficent dynamic feels as fresh as ever.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  premieres in American theaters on October 18th, with a runtime of 118 minutes. It is rated PG for intense sequences of fantasy action, some violence, and brief scary images.

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‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ Review: Sleep, Sleep, My Lovelies

Angelina Jolie returns as the powerful, dangerous fairy in this tame, disappointing follow-up to the 2014 revisionist hit.

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movie review of maleficent 2

By Manohla Dargis

The happily ever after delivered by Disney’s “Maleficent” has vanished like a puff of bilious smoke, as its unhappy, reactionary sequel makes depressingly clear.

Released in 2014, the first movie is a satisfying rethink of “Sleeping Beauty” — both Disney’s and Charles Perrault’s — that showed how intelligent intervention could upend centuries of oppressive ideas about women. In its revisionist take, the titular dark, dangerous fairy played by Angelina Jolie isn’t naturally evil or merely spiteful in bestowing a curse, but exerting her power with a vengeance.

Played by Jolie with slinky verve, voluminous wings and two magnificently crowning horns, Maleficent is the earlier movie’s greatest special effect. She’s also its most inspired disruptive stroke, having been wronged once upon a time by a suitor, the type who usually bails damsels out of distress. Instead, he secures the throne by seducing and drugging Maleficent, and then clipping her wings, a startling metaphor of violation. The most bracing thing about the original “Maleficent,” though, is that it shifts the narrative weight from the love between a sleeping princess and a rescuing prince to that between the princess and her fairy godmother.

Maleficent is back and so is Jolie, who, with her augmented cheekbones and perfectly calibrated hauteur, remains the only reason to bother with it. Much else has changed and not for the better, whatever this hash insists. At the end of the last installment, Maleficent enthroned her adored surrogate daughter, Aurora (Elle Fanning) — who had grown up to become the cursed and liberated beauty — and given her the Moors, a computer-generated peaceable and enchanted wonderland. Aurora rules benevolently from her flower throne, smiling over a menagerie of flowery, floofy and leathery creatures great and small, cutesy and stately.

The sequel’s problems are tipped by its title, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” which sounds as if our great horned one had landed a gig as a dominatrix. More worryingly, it suggests that, contrary to what you learned last time, Maleficent is, yes, very bad, a gambit that’s presumably meant to keep new viewers guessing about her character. But if she is evil, as this sequel promises, it makes you wonder about all the other dismal, stubbornly enduring clichés that the first movie jettisoned, specifically that reliably sexist duo: the wicked female usurper whose power inherently challenges ye olde patriarchy and the innocent maiden who needs a prince to rescue her.

You don’t wait long to be disappointed. Generic from start to finish, the sequel was directed by Joachim Roenning, whose credits include the forgettable sea adventure “Kon-Tiki” (I had to look it up, and I reviewed it), which is probably what got him the job heading up the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment. It made a mint and that may explain why he was tapped for “Mistress of Evil,” though he does little but move stuff around, leaving the heavy lifting to Jolie and armies of special-effects workers. (The writers are Linda Woolverton, who wrote the original movie — and whose voice is scarcely heard — Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue.)

If “Mistress of Evil” had any of its predecessor’s flashes of self-aware humor, embellished beauty or basic filmmaking intelligence, it might be easier to take or at least ignore. But it’s a clotted mess. It’s also dispiriting because it has traded a fairy tale about female solidarity for a war movie about what happens when women assume power. It opens with a bent knee and ends with an ever-after kiss, but much of the rest is a convoluted brawl filled with noise and computer minions who are tossed like darts. At center is a grasping, malignant queen (Michelle Pfeiffer), the very stereotype that the first movie rejected. She even comes with an awful mini-me (Jenn Murray).

Female villains have long been useful scapegoats, repositories for social and cultural anxieties about men, women and power. The original “Maleficent” pushes against that stereotype with a protagonist who’s at once hero and villain, which means that she’s finally neither. Much like “Frozen,” it insists that women can be complex and that even a princess doesn’t need a prince to justify her life. Women can work together, love one another, find their own way. In 2014, when Maleficent — rather than the prince — delivered the kiss that roused Aurora, it felt like an awakening. This new flick doesn’t just feel like a retreat, it also feels like a poisoned, candied invitation to sleep.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Rated PG for bloodless war violence. Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes.

Manohla Dargis has been the co-chief film critic since 2004. She started writing about movies professionally in 1987 while earning her M.A. in cinema studies at New York University, and her work has been anthologized in several books. More about Manohla Dargis

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'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' gives us Disney's version of a 'red wedding' with an excellent Angelina Jolie

  • Warning: There are minor spoilers ahead for "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil."
  • The sequel to the 2014 hit revolves around an impending wedding for Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip. 
  • The real scene-stealers of the film are Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), Phillips' mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), and all of Maleficent's stunning outfits.
  • Some of the forest creatures are a bit nightmarish and the film's plot is fairly predictable.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories

Insider Today

"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" is action-packed and surprisingly funny, if a bit predictable at times. 

Several years after the first film, Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip want nothing more than to get married. Unfortunately, their mothers Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) rather start an all out war between humans and faeries before they let their children become betrothed.

The "Maleficent" sequel has the highs of "Avatar" as it travels into a mysterious fairy-filled world and the lows of George Lucas' 2015 flop "Strange Magic." Magic aside, it's the hostility and brewing war between Jolie and Pfeiffer's characters and their masterful performances that make the sequel worth a watch.

Why you should care: It's the sequel to 2014's hit 'Maleficent' and Angelina Jolie's first big onscreen appearance since 2015's 'By the Sea.'

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Jolie is back as Disney's most iconic villain in another story where, it turns out, she's really not the villain at all. She's just misunderstood. Michelle Pfeiffer joins the cast this time around as Prince Phillips' mother, Queen Ingrith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a fellow Fey named Conall.

Do I need to watch the first film to understand the sequel? No.

If you don't have time to rewatch the first film before seeing the sequel, don't worry. Disney does was it does best by summarizing what you need to know about Maleficent and her relationship to Aurora and her missing parents pretty early in the film. By the film's end, it actually ties pretty neatly into the first film.

What's hot: The performances from Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, a 'Game of Thrones'-like red wedding, and every costume Jolie's Maleficent wears.

You're not going to watch this sequel for the story of Prince Phillip and Aurora's impending wedding. They're two of the most boring, bland people in this entire movie. Michelle Pfeiffer's Queen Ingrith boils Aurora down as someone who rules by running around the moors barefoot with flowers in her hair, a line that will make most of the adults who are taking their kids to theaters undoubtedly chuckle.

Thank goodness for the addition of Pfeiffer as a conniving queen and Jolie's return as the one to go toe-to-toe with her. Not only do they make this mostly unnecessary sequel bearable, but pretty good as you're sucked into the brewing tension between the two mothers until it comes to a head in the film's tremendous third act. 

If you had told me going into "Mistress of Evil" that there would be a giant action sequence reminiscent of "Game of Thrones'" killer red wedding, barricaded doors and all, I would have thought you were mistaken. That's way too dark for Disney! But they pull it off for what are about the most enjoyable 20 minutes of the film. Queen Ingrith is essentially the film's Cersei Lannister.

Jolie reminds you why she's an Oscar winner. She livens up the film any time she's on screen. Whether it's for a mere one-liner or an entire scene, Jolie has the ability to make you fully focused not just on her delivery but engrosses the audience in how she responds to any scenario with the smallest movement in her eyes.

Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick ("The Greatest Showman") did an impressive job making Jolie's scene-stealing looks. Though she also designed eight gorgeous dresses for Ingrith, fans will be talking about the red-carpet ready attire Jolie showed off. The actress looks absolutely stunning in every scene whether her hair is tucked away or wrapped around her face to make her look timeless. I'm expecting to see a lot of cosplay inspiration come from Maleficent's looks alone.

By the film's end, you may have a new idea of who you want to dress up as for Halloween.

What's not: Any of the magical forest creatures and pixies and a pretty predictable plot

Do you remember George Lucas' Disney movie "Strange Magic" ? It's a 2015 animated musical released by the Disney after he sold Lucasfilm to them. It flopped at the box office and was filled with fairies and pixies and a bunch of other magical creatures that looked kind of creepy.

I couldn't stop thinking about it any time sequences with any of the magical creatures in "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" came on screen. For a company that makes beautiful movies and has the capability to make animated rain look realistic in "Toy Story 4" and oceans look lifelike in "Frozen 2," the VFX of the forest creatures in "Maleficent 2" are kind of crude and underwhelming. 

Aurora's three fairy godmothers are the strangest-looking of all and some of the most annoying characters Disney has ever put on screen. Even Maleficent gets fed up with them. A few minutes into the movie, Jolie tosses them away with a flick of her wrist. It's probably why there's so little of them in a franchise where they were some of the most beloved characters in the original.

The biggest complaint some may have with "Maleficent 2" is that the plot is pretty predictable. It won't take you long to figure out Pfeiffer is the film's real villain. (Let's be honest. If you watched the trailers and thought Pfeiffer wasn't playing some sort of villain then you simply weren't paying attention.) In the end, the film's predictability didn't bother me so much since the film delivered a few key surprises by its end. 

Aside from the movie's end, there are moments where Jolie soars through the sky with other creatures like herself. It truly feels like a moment out of Fox's (now Disney-owned) "Avatar" when the Na'vi soar through the sky on banshees. It's a fun moment, but fans could point to it as uninspired.

Overall: If you enjoyed the first 'Maleficent,' you'll like this. Go for Jolie and Pfeiffer.

Screenwriter Linda Woolverton once again makes you feel compassion and empathy towards one of Disney's darkest villains. Aurora and Prince Phillip's wedding aside, "Mistress of Evil" puts a message of tolerance and peace between two warring nations front and center. A few dark moments during the film may scare little ones, but the sequel itself isn't frightening. 

If you're a big Disney fan, there's one nod to the end of the original 1959 animated film and the sequel has a satisfying and unexpected link to the first movie by its very end. 

"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" is in theaters Friday. You can watch a trailer for the movie below.

Follow INSIDER on Facebook .

Watch: How Disney's animation evolved from 'Frozen' to 'Frozen 2'

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Less interesting this time around … Elle Fanning as Aurora, Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and Sam Riley as Diaval in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review – panto fun is missing in action

Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning do their best in second revisionist fairytale, but CGI battles kill the story

T his sequel has got a great cast. It’s not just Angelina Jolie reprising her post-fairytale turn as Maleficent from the 2014 film , the wicked witch from the Sleeping Beauty story who isn’t quite as wicked as all that and whose reputed wickedness may simply be a function of patriarchal mythology. There’s also the estimable Elle Fanning back again as Aurora, the demure heroine who has now made up with Maleficent, regarding her as a godmother. Plus we now get Michelle Pfeiffer on decent form as Queen Ingrith and Robert Lindsay as King John – the nation’s rulers, and parents of Prince Phillip. The three digitised pixies are back – Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville – and Chiwetel Ejiofor now has a cameo as one of the horned, winged creatures from the Moors, that disputed land adjacent to the humans’ kingdom where Maleficent hails from. Sam Riley returns as Diaval, Maleficent’s raven-turned-humanoid familiar.

But the awful truth is that despite all this star-power, Maleficent 2 is a bit weak, and it runs out of narrative steam before the halfway mark. Maleficent is not the mistress of evil: most of the evilness has now been deconstructed out of her, and the mistress-of-evil position is clearly going to be usurped from Maleficent by a certain someone else, someone who will be presented to us as genuinely bad but whose evident depravity may yet be explained or backstoried away in Maleficent 3. For now, it’s a question of being plain bad, and therefore a bit of a scene-stealer. Maleficent herself has become about as scary or revisionist as one of the Addams Family films. Mistress of Evil increasingly explains her reputation in terms of her coming from the Moors: a tribal or ethnic difference: she is alienated, marginalised, othered.

The situation now is that Aurora’s boyfriend, young Prince Phillip (played now by Harris Dickinson, taking over from Brenton Thwaites) has now proposed marriage, infuriating Maleficent, and somewhat disconcerting King John and Queen Ingrith. With some misgivings, they suggest a peacemaking engagement-celebration dinner at their castle, at which Aurora and Maleficent will be the honoured guests. But this diplomacy ends in calamity.

The main problem is that the film gradually collapses, as if in a sort of storytelling entropy, into a final battle – like an awful lot of MCU movies. What began as a visceral contest of personalities, with actors given interesting or funny things to say or do, becomes a big CGI warfare scene: a clash of digitally created armies making for a big ho-hum spectacle. Jolie’s character is also less interesting this time around, and the digitisation of her face, with its Max-Headroom-type flat cheekbones, further flattens her performance. This Maleficent is disappointing, although Jolie certainly sells it hard, as does Fanning, who takes it as seriously as anything else in her career.

This article was amended on 16 October 2019. An earlier version described Queen Ingrith as Aurora’s mother and King John as her stepfather. This has been corrected.

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Disney

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

October 16, 2019

Action-Adventure, Family, Fantasy

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is a fantasy adventure that picks up several years after “Maleficent,” in which audiences learned of the events that hardened the heart of Disney’s most notorious villain and drove her to curse a baby Princess Aurora. The film continues to explore the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen as they form new alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within. The film is directed by Joachim Rønning from a story by Linda Woolverton and a screenplay by Linda Woolverton and Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster, the film is produced by Joe Roth, Angelina Jolie and Duncan Henderson with Matt Smith, Jeff Kirschenbaum and Michael Vieira serving as executive producers.

Rated: PG Runtime: 1h 59min Release Date: October 16, 2019

Directed By

rated PG

  • motionpictures.org
  • filmratings.com

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil | On Digital 12/31 & Blu-ray 1/14

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil | On Digital 12/31 & Blu-ray 1/14

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – In Theaters October 18!

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – In Theaters October 18!

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Tickets On Sale Now!

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Tickets On Sale Now!

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Making Movie Magic With the Cast of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil | Disney

Featurette: Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Featurette: Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

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Elle Fan-girl-ing Over Maleficent: Mistress of Evil's Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer | Disney

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Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Transformation Time-Lapse | Beauty by Disney Style

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Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Official Trailer

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Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - In Theaters October 18

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Disney Art 4 Ways: Maleficent | Disney

"Return To The Moors" Featurette - In Theaters October 18

"Return To The Moors" Featurette - In Theaters October 18

The characters.

Maleficent Character

The dark fairy Maleficent protects the magical creatures of the Moors. Enigmatic and reviled, yet deliciously wicked, she has grown to love the princess she cursed to sleep forever.

Aurora Character

The princess cursed as a child by Maleficent, Aurora, is now Queen of the Moors, a position bestowed on her by her godmother, and is set to wed Prince Phillip. Embodying goodness, kindness and compassion, Aurora’s love for her godmother is unconditional, and it is her pure heart and desire to do good which gives her the strength to face evil.

Queen Ingrith Character

Queen of Ulstead and Aurora’s future mother‐in‐law, Queen Ingrith is wicked, cunning and selfish. A worthy adversary to the dark fairy Maleficent, she has an evil plan to divide humans and fairies forever.

Conall Character

Strong, fearless, heroic and kind, Conall is one of the leaders of the dark fey, a band of winged creatures exiled from the human world, who rescues and befriends Maleficent. Having observed the dark fairy for some time, he is an advocate for peace between men and fairies.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent and Elle Fanning is Aurora Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Elle Fanning in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Elle Fanning is Aurora in Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Michelle Pfeiffer in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith in Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent and Elle Fanning is Aurora in Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Elle Fanning in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith in Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith in Disney’s Maleficant: Mistress of Evil

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith in Disney’s Maleficant: Mistress of Evil.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith and Elle Fanning is Aurora in Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of EvilL.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s Maleficant: Mistress of Evil

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Screen Rant

Why maleficent 2's reviews are so negative.

Why are the reviews for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil so negative? Here's a rundown for what critics are saying about the sequel, both good and bad.

Disney’s Maleficent became a box office sensation, but the highly-anticipated sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has come and gone. which is in part because of its negative reviews. Starring Angelina Jolie, the original franchise film was acclaimed for its extravagant central performance, along with the collective production design and visual effects. Maleficient even landed an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. But whereas the sequel has received the same type of production acclaim, the story itself hasn’t stunned critics worldwide.

Directed by Joachim Rønning , Maleficent: Mistress of Evil tells a familiar story but one that strays further from the original Sleepy Beauty premise that made the franchise-starter so relatable and accessible. In Maleficent , Disney provides Aurora’s perspective on the infamous character Maleficent, the protector of the Moors who put a curse on the young princess because of a beef with the girl’s father. Maleficent and Aurora ultimately form a strong bond, with the latter coming back to life after being kissed by her beloved Prince Philip. Maleficent 2  picks up five years after the death of Aurora’s father, King Stefan, and chronicles the heavy conflict between the Moors and Prince Philip’s mother Ingrith, the Queen of Ulstead.

Related:  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Cast & Character Guide

Currently, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has a 40 percent tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes . On top of that, the sequel will most likely barely make a profit for Disney given its relatively disappointing box office return , which is less than $500 million a month into its theatrical release. The good news, however, is that general moviegoers across the world seem to enjoy the cinematic experience. Plus, Maleficent 2  can’t quite be considered a box office bomb, and there’s undeniably plenty of merchandising potential to capitalize upon. Here’s what the  reviews are saying about Maleficent: Mistress of Evil .

Jake Coyle - Associated Press

Sadly, such fun is not to be had in "Mistress of Evil,"  a needless sequel to the 2014 "Sleeping Beauty" riff that fails to fully value the entire of appeal of these films: Jolie's Maleficent."

Christy Lemire - FilmWeek

There's no need for this [sequel]... It's almost not campy enough.

Simon Weaving - The Canberra Times

With the overwhelming razzle-dazzle of computer-generated vistas, there's definitely something missing. Fairytales are meant to be whispered, invoking wonder and mystery, even at their darkest. This is shouty and loud.

Matthew Toomey - The Film Pie

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is likely to have its fans given their admiration for the original but when compared to the aforementioned films, it's sorely lacking.

Tim Grierson - Screen Daily

"Mistress of Evil" has its heart in the right place, but good intentions can't overcome a nagging blockbuster familiarity.

Peter Sobcynski - eFilmCritic.com

The kind of vacuous, empty-headed spectacle that has absolutely nothing on its mind other than squeezing several hundred millions more out of a property that barely had enough material for a single story, let alone a follow-up.

The overall reviews for  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil imply that story structure is what brings the sequel down. In addition, critics have suggested that Rønning and company simply tried too hard, and strayed from the magical storytelling components that made the first movie so effective. However, the collective reviews for  Maleficent 2  haven't been entirely negative. Many critics have found immense value in Jolie's central performance, and the overall experience of the Disney production. Here are some of the more positive reviews for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil .

Richard Roeper - Chicago Sun-Times

We get a classic buildup establishing heroes and villains; gorgeous, screen-popping visuals featuring beautiful and mysterious worlds; a bounty of colorful and magical creatures, and a lengthy, CGI-laden, climactic battle sequence…

Charlotte O’Sullivan - London Evening Standard

The bottom line is that Maleficent 2 takes a brilliant character and doesn't completely bugger things up.

Bryan Lowry - CNN

As is so often the case, Maleficent didn't exactly cry out for another chapter, but if forced to do one with a sharp spindle pointed at your head (or finger), this is about as good as one could have hoped.

Rubén Rosario - MiamiArtZine

It goes down easy, thanks to a colorful palette and Woolverton's refusal to soft-pedal the nefarious lengths Queen Ingrith will go to carry out her anti-fairy agenda.

For Disney, the  positive reaction to  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil from general moviegoers is probably what matters most. In addition, the sequel won't be necessarily be a box office failure , thus allowing for a third franchise installment. At this point, Woolverton and Disney can sort through the pros and cons of the first two films, and then form a solid template for Maleficent 3 . Jolie has immense star power, along with Elle Fanning, but as critics have pointed,  Maleficent: Mistress of Evil seems to be more interested in big moments and big production design, rather than telling an effective story that complements the central performances.

More:  All The Live-Action Disney Remakes In Development

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Angelina Jolie's magnetic performance outshines Maleficent 's dazzling special effects; unfortunately, the movie around them fails to justify all that impressive effort.

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King Stefan

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Visually beautiful but dark retelling of classic fairytale.

Maleficent Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Kids will learn the value of looking at a situatio

The movie's over-arching message is to not allow g

Aurora is a sweet, kind girl who's curious and lov

The movie's tone becomes quite dark, and there are

A couple of kisses, including a romantic kiss betw

Rare uses of insult language like "imbecile" and "

While there are no product placements in the movie

Parents need to know that Maleficent is Disney's retelling of its iconic animated princess movie Sleeping Beauty from the villain's point of view. Audiences will learn the reasons why the "evil fairy" (played by Angelina Jolie) is so bitter and resentful at not being invited to baby Aurora's…

Educational Value

Kids will learn the value of looking at a situation from more than one perspective, as well as the important lesson that people are often more than what they seem.

Positive Messages

The movie's over-arching message is to not allow greed and hatred to blind you from love and generosity. If Maleficent had let go of her anger at being jilted, she wouldn't have cursed Aurora, and if Stefan hadn't been so greedy and hurtful, the kingdom and the moors could have lived in peace. Aurora's journey is about staying in the light, even when surrounded by darkness.

Positive Role Models

Aurora is a sweet, kind girl who's curious and loves the creatures of the moors, just like young Maleficent, who was brave and protective of her fellow fairies and creatures. Maleficent is both a villain and a hero, because she had reasons to be bitter and unkind and is eventually remorseful for the hateful way she cursed baby Aurora. Against all odds, Maleficent is able to love again when she sees what a smart and generous young woman Aurora has become. Diaval is a loyal and truth-telling servant/helper to Maleficent.

Violence & Scariness

The movie's tone becomes quite dark, and there are some genuinely jump-worthy/scary scenes -- like when Maleficent realizes that her wings have been cut off (a brutal scene that's reminiscent of sexual assault in some ways), as well as the various battles between the kingdom and the creatures of the moors, including the climactic fight between Maleficent, the king's guards, and the king himself. The three fairies can be physical with each other -- pulling one another's hair, hitting, and slapping -- but it's usually portrayed in a humorous manner. People die on and off camera, including one key character who plunges to his death.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

A couple of kisses, including a romantic kiss between Aurora and a prince.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Rare uses of insult language like "imbecile" and "idiot."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

While there are no product placements in the movie, there are promotional tie-ins to merchandise including apparel, toys, accessories, and games.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Maleficent is Disney's retelling of its iconic animated princess movie Sleeping Beauty from the villain's point of view. Audiences will learn the reasons why the "evil fairy" (played by Angelina Jolie ) is so bitter and resentful at not being invited to baby Aurora's welcoming party that she curses the infant princess. Far more so than the animated original (which itself is often too scary for younger kids in the preschool age bracket), this live-action version can get quite dark and may frighten younger kids, particularly during violent action sequences between the kingdom and the magical creatures of the moors. Characters die (or look dead) or are injured, and Maleficient is an intimidating figure. It's also very upsetting when her wings are cut off. But the movie's overall message -- about redemption and love -- is positive, and giving Maleficient more depth and context will help kids sympathize with her. As long as your kids can handle the battles, they'll probably enjoy this new take on a classic Disney villain. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Kids say (124)

Based on 68 parent reviews

Normalizes criminal behavior

Magnificent fairytale with timeless messages, what's the story.

MALEFICENT is a retelling of Disney's classic take on Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villain, the supposedly evil fairy who eventually curses baby Princess Aurora with eternal sleep. But Maleficent, like all villains, is a complicated character: She grew up a powerful, winged fairy who lived peacefully in the magical moors adjacent to the human kingdom. When, as a child, a young peasant boy Stefan wondered into the moors, young Maleficent grew attached to him, despite her distrust of humans. Their friendship leads to romance over the years, but after Stefan ( Sharlto Copley ) does something unthinkable to Maleficent (now Angelina Jolie ) to gain the king's favor, she grows bitter and dark from his betrayal. Once Stefan is crowned king and his queen has a baby girl, Maleficent decides to get her revenge by cursing little Aurora. Little does Maleficent know that the girl will grow up into a sweet and curious girl ( Elle Fanning ) whom even a dark and angry fairy could appreciate.

Is It Any Good?

Plenty of this retelling is visually spectacular, with amazing special effects and lush scenery: The moors at their brightest are sweet and enchanting, while the kingdom is a drab and imposing place. Between the art design, the costumes, and the immaculate CGI-aided make-up (has an actress ever had such razor-sharp cheekbones as Jolie in this film?), Maleficent is a true feast for the eyes, which is no surprise, given director Robert Stromberg's history as a visual effects specialist.

Plot wise, however, the movie is a bit of a letdown. Jolie is wonderful at being (justifiably) mean -- with her sharp face, scary green eyes, and clipped speaking tones -- and she's good at delivering the dry one liners. But to reduce her story to the cliche of a jilted and jealous ex-girlfriend is slightly disappointing and undercuts the movie's other message: that you should strive to stay in the light, even when surrounded by darkness. While younger kids might be alternately scared or bored, older kids and adults might wish for a little more enchantment to go along with the effects. Still, Fanning, so lovely and bright-eyed, is well cast as teen Aurora, and worth seeing opposite Jolie.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about why villains/antiheroes are often just as compelling as heroes. Were you surprised at Maleficent's back story? Did it make her more sympathetic?

How does the movie make you rethink the story of Sleeping Beauty ? What is the film trying to say about villains? Are people all good or all evil?

How is the idea of love explored in the movie? Is love only the romantic kind, or are there are other kinds of "true love"?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : May 30, 2014
  • On DVD or streaming : November 4, 2014
  • Cast : Angelina Jolie , Elle Fanning , Sharlto Copley
  • Director : Robert Stromberg
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : Walt Disney Pictures
  • Genre : Family and Kids
  • Topics : Magic and Fantasy , Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More
  • Run time : 97 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG
  • MPAA explanation : sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images
  • Last updated : November 4, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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By Peter Travers

Peter Travers

If looks could kill, Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent could lay waste to armies. Jolie, with cool wings, a red scar for lips and cheekbones that could cut concrete, sure as hell has the bearing to play a classic evil bitch in Disney’s rethinking of Sleeping Beauty . If only looks were everything. But this soulless summer timekiller is empty inside. Debuting director Robert Stromberg has two Oscars for art direction ( Avatar, Alice in Wonderland ) and it shows. The downside is that Maleficent is nothing more than a diorama disguised as a movie, a flimsy cardboard thingie that feels untouched by human hands. The idea behind the script by Linda Woolverton ( Beauty and the Beast ) is that Maleficent is really a secret softie. She’s been done wrong by a dude named Stefan (Sharlto Copley at his creepiest), who takes advantage of her innocence and later cuts off her wings so he can steal her magic land, marry the daughter of the King and wear the crown himself. Men—those rat bastards! No wonder Maleficent puts a curse on Stefan’s baby girl, Aurora. At 16, Aurora (Elle Fanning, smiling prettily and for no reason) will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a coma. Many audience members around me looked similarly afflicted. I can relate. By the time Maleficent, aided by her shape-shifting bff Diaval (Sam Riley), is through playing fairy godmother with the help of three incompetent pixies (Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple need to fire their agents), Aurora is ready to join her spirit mom Maleficent in revenge against Big Daddy. The twink of a prince (Brenton Thwaites) is little more than an afterthought. Even the true love’s kiss that can awaken Aurora takes a feminist slant. Jolie comes to this party ready to bite, but the movie muzzles her. Even at 97 minutes, Maleficent is still one long, laborious slog.

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15 Movie Villains and the Stories That Shaped Them

Posted: May 3, 2024 | Last updated: May 3, 2024

<p>It’s true that, at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki is much more than a villain. Many fans, especially after his own series, considered him now a hero. However, he started as the bad guy in “Thor” (2011), and he has a valid reason for it.</p> <p>As the adopted son of Odin, grew up feeling overshadowed by his brother Thor. Fueled by a desire for recognition and a belief in his own entitlement, he turned to mischief and manipulation. As he discovered his true heritage as a Frost Giant, Loki's resentment and bitterness intensified, leading him down a path of betrayal and ambition. </p>

Loki - Thor (2011)

It’s true that, at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki is much more than a villain. Many fans, especially after his own series, considered him now a hero. However, he started as the bad guy in “Thor” (2011), and he has a valid reason for it.

As the adopted son of Odin, grew up feeling overshadowed by his brother Thor. Fueled by a desire for recognition and a belief in his own entitlement, he turned to mischief and manipulation. As he discovered his true heritage as a Frost Giant, Loki's resentment and bitterness intensified, leading him down a path of betrayal and ambition.

<p>It’s true that nobody asked for a Cruella de Vil origin story, but Disney decided to give us one, anyway. Thankfully, they chose the best person for the role and that was Oscar-winner Emma Stone. Born Estella, she was an orphan (after her “mother” was killed by Dalmatians, mind you) and had a passion for designing extravagant clothing.</p> <p>Her descent into villainy began when she embraced her darker, more ruthless side when she wants to trace her real origins, and it turns out her real mother was the Baroness, a renowned-but-authoritarian haute couture designer. </p>

Cruella de Vil - Cruella (2021)

It’s true that nobody asked for a Cruella de Vil origin story, but Disney decided to give us one, anyway. Thankfully, they chose the best person for the role and that was Oscar-winner Emma Stone. Born Estella, she was an orphan (after her “mother” was killed by Dalmatians, mind you) and had a passion for designing extravagant clothing.

Her descent into villainy began when she embraced her darker, more ruthless side when she wants to trace her real origins, and it turns out her real mother was the Baroness, a renowned-but-authoritarian haute couture designer.

<p>The X-Men prequel films don’t only give us Magneto’s origin story, but also Mystique’s origin story. In this case, she is portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence. We first met her as Raven, who is alone in the world and is close to Professor Charles Xavier.</p> <p>However, she struggled with her identity and the prejudice against mutants. She also struggled with her looks, and she only wanted to be “human.” Feeling rejected by both humans and mutants, she became a central figure in the mutant rights movement, adopting a more militant stance as her views on coexistence evolved.</p>

Mystique - X-Men: First Class (2011) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

The X-Men prequel films don’t only give us Magneto’s origin story, but also Mystique’s origin story. In this case, she is portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence. We first met her as Raven, who is alone in the world and is close to Professor Charles Xavier.

However, she struggled with her identity and the prejudice against mutants. She also struggled with her looks, and she only wanted to be “human.” Feeling rejected by both humans and mutants, she became a central figure in the mutant rights movement, adopting a more militant stance as her views on coexistence evolved.

<p>Much can be said about “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but we can all agree that Electro's origins in the movie are rather melancholic. Max Dillon, a brilliant yet socially awkward electrical engineer, is simply doing his best with good intentions.</p> <p>However, his life takes a tragic turn when a freak accident involving electric eels and experimental Oscorp technology grants him superpowers. These newfound abilities, combined with a profound resentment for those who overlooked him, ultimately transform Max into Electro.</p>

Electro - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Much can be said about “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but we can all agree that Electro's origins in the movie are rather melancholic. Max Dillon, a brilliant yet socially awkward electrical engineer, is simply doing his best with good intentions.

However, his life takes a tragic turn when a freak accident involving electric eels and experimental Oscorp technology grants him superpowers. These newfound abilities, combined with a profound resentment for those who overlooked him, ultimately transform Max into Electro.

<p>One reason 'Black Panther' was so great is because the bad guy, Killmonger, was just as interesting as the main hero, T'Challa. Killmonger, who is both a U.S. Navy Seal and from Wakanda, disagrees with how T'Challa rules. His main drive isn't just about making Wakanda the most powerful nation; it's also fueled by the fact that T’Challa’s father (his uncle) abandoned him.</p> <p>Despite their differences, both Killmonger and T’Challa want the same thing: a safe and prosperous Wakanda. This shared goal shows that, deep down, they have similar values and reflects the hero's principles. </p>

Killmonger – Black Panther (2018)

One reason 'Black Panther' was so great is because the bad guy, Killmonger, was just as interesting as the main hero, T'Challa. Killmonger, who is both a U.S. Navy Seal and from Wakanda, disagrees with how T'Challa rules. His main drive isn't just about making Wakanda the most powerful nation; it's also fueled by the fact that T’Challa’s father (his uncle) abandoned him.

Despite their differences, both Killmonger and T’Challa want the same thing: a safe and prosperous Wakanda. This shared goal shows that, deep down, they have similar values and reflects the hero's principles.

<p>There are few villains as multidimensional and complex as Wilson Fisk, also known as the Kingpin. Fans not familiar with the comics might know him best for being the main villain in the series “Daredevil,” but here we’re revisiting his origin story for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”</p> <p>The reason for Fisk’s obsession with traveling to parallel universes is the fact that he wants to reunite with his late son and wife. They died after she discovered his criminal activities (as he was fighting Spider-Man) and attempted to escape with their son, only to be inadvertently killed in the scene.</p>

Kingpin - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

There are few villains as multidimensional and complex as Wilson Fisk, also known as the Kingpin. Fans not familiar with the comics might know him best for being the main villain in the series “Daredevil,” but here we’re revisiting his origin story for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

The reason for Fisk’s obsession with traveling to parallel universes is the fact that he wants to reunite with his late son and wife. They died after she discovered his criminal activities (as he was fighting Spider-Man) and attempted to escape with their son, only to be inadvertently killed in the scene.

<p>Since the release of The Sleeping Beauty (1959), Maleficent has haunted the nightmares of little children, especially young girls. However, this sorceress who can transform into a terrifying dragon has a tragic origin story.</p> <p>Once a benevolent fairy, she suffered betrayal at the hands of King Stefan, who sought power and betrayed her trust. This betrayal led her to embrace darkness and curse the king's daughter, Aurora.</p>

Maleficent - Maleficent (2014)

Since the release of The Sleeping Beauty (1959), Maleficent has haunted the nightmares of little children, especially young girls. However, this sorceress who can transform into a terrifying dragon has a tragic origin story.

Once a benevolent fairy, she suffered betrayal at the hands of King Stefan, who sought power and betrayed her trust. This betrayal led her to embrace darkness and curse the king's daughter, Aurora.

<p>While Star Wars prequels weren’t that beloved back in the day, it’s true that after some time, many fans are embracing them in a different way. Either way, it’s true that Darth Vader’s origin story is interesting to say the least.</p> <p>Anakin Skywalker was a Jedi Knight and Clone Wars hero before he was seduced to the dark side by Palpatine. He used Anakin’s vulnerability and fear of losing those he loved to convince him that the dark side of the Force held power to protect them. </p>

Darth Vader - ‘Revenge of the Sith’ (2005)

While Star Wars prequels weren’t that beloved back in the day, it’s true that after some time, many fans are embracing them in a different way. Either way, it’s true that Darth Vader’s origin story is interesting to say the least.

Anakin Skywalker was a Jedi Knight and Clone Wars hero before he was seduced to the dark side by Palpatine. He used Anakin’s vulnerability and fear of losing those he loved to convince him that the dark side of the Force held power to protect them.

<p>‘Saw’ is definitely a hard-watch, even for horror fans. The film follows John Kramer, also known as ‘Jigsaw,’ who tests his victims' will to live through sadistic games in life-threatening situations. But, why does he do this? In Saw II and Saw IV, we get to know better the origins of this villain.</p> <p>He was a brilliant but terminally ill engineer who, after surviving a suicide attempt, developed a twisted philosophy about the value of life, believing people took life for granted. This, added to a warped sense of morality, made him an intriguing character. </p>

John Kramer/Jigsaw - Saw II (2005) and Saw IV (2007)

‘Saw’ is definitely a hard-watch, even for horror fans. The film follows John Kramer, also known as ‘Jigsaw,’ who tests his victims' will to live through sadistic games in life-threatening situations. But, why does he do this? In Saw II and Saw IV, we get to know better the origins of this villain.

He was a brilliant but terminally ill engineer who, after surviving a suicide attempt, developed a twisted philosophy about the value of life, believing people took life for granted. This, added to a warped sense of morality, made him an intriguing character.

<p>Magneto has one of the saddest origin stories, and in the 2011’s ‘X-Men: First Class’ we finally get to see it on the big screen. Portrayed by Michael Fassbender in the movie, the film explains very well his vision of the world and his reasons for it.</p> <p>Magneto, born Max Eisenhardt, watched his family executed during the Holocaust. He survived because his powers manifested. Years later, he also has to watch how his daughter is killed and his wife runs away after seeing him using his powers for vengeance. </p>

Magneto - ‘X-Men: First Class’ (2011)

Magneto has one of the saddest origin stories, and in the 2011’s ‘X-Men: First Class’ we finally get to see it on the big screen. Portrayed by Michael Fassbender in the movie, the film explains very well his vision of the world and his reasons for it.

Magneto, born Max Eisenhardt, watched his family executed during the Holocaust. He survived because his powers manifested. Years later, he also has to watch how his daughter is killed and his wife runs away after seeing him using his powers for vengeance.

<p>It’s no secret that ‘The Godfather Part II’ is considered one of the best films ever made, as well as one of the best sequels ever. This classic follows two timelines, one in 1954, when Michael (Al Pacino) is the new Don’, and one following Vito’s journey from his Sicilian childhood to the founding of his family enterprise in New York City.</p> <p>Portrayed by Robert De Niro, Vito’s life is marked by tragedy. He had to flee to the US after a Sicilian mobster murdered his family in the beginning of the 1900s. In New York City, after getting married and having his children, he became “the godfather” when he murdered a man who was intimidating and stealing from Vito's neighbors.</p>

Vito Corleone - ‘The Godfather Part II’ (1974)

It’s no secret that ‘The Godfather Part II’ is considered one of the best films ever made, as well as one of the best sequels ever. This classic follows two timelines, one in 1954, when Michael (Al Pacino) is the new Don’, and one following Vito’s journey from his Sicilian childhood to the founding of his family enterprise in New York City.

Portrayed by Robert De Niro, Vito’s life is marked by tragedy. He had to flee to the US after a Sicilian mobster murdered his family in the beginning of the 1900s. In New York City, after getting married and having his children, he became “the godfather” when he murdered a man who was intimidating and stealing from Vito's neighbors.

<p>Hannibale Lecter is one of the most iconic villains in pop culture. Portrayed by actors such as Anthony Hopkins and Mads Mikkelsen, this cultured and cannibalistic serial killer has appeared in movies and series. But, in Hannibal Rising, portrayed by Gaspard Ulliel, we get to see his origins.</p> <p>Hannibal Lecter's origin lies in the devastation of World War II. After witnessing the brutal death of his sister and enduring unspeakable horrors, Lecter developed a taste for revenge. He transformed into a brilliant but psychopathic killer, targeting those he deemed responsible for his sister's demise.</p>

Hannibal Lecter - Hannibal Rising (2007)

Hannibale Lecter is one of the most iconic villains in pop culture. Portrayed by actors such as Anthony Hopkins and Mads Mikkelsen, this cultured and cannibalistic serial killer has appeared in movies and series. But, in Hannibal Rising, portrayed by Gaspard Ulliel, we get to see his origins.

Hannibal Lecter's origin lies in the devastation of World War II. After witnessing the brutal death of his sister and enduring unspeakable horrors, Lecter developed a taste for revenge. He transformed into a brilliant but psychopathic killer, targeting those he deemed responsible for his sister's demise.

<p>The Penguin is a classic villain in Batman’s mythology, and the film that best explained his origins is “Batman Returns.” Oswald Cobblepot was born into the aristocratic Cobblepot family but was shunned by his parents due to his deformities. As a child, he was raised in the sewers of Gotham City by a family of penguins.</p> <p>Growing up, he faced rejection and cruelty, shaping him into a bitter and vengeful man. Adopting the moniker "The Penguin," he rose to power in the criminal underworld, using his intelligence and resourcefulness to become a formidable adversary for Batman.</p>

The Penguin - Batman Returns (1992)

The Penguin is a classic villain in Batman’s mythology, and the film that best explained his origins is “Batman Returns.” Oswald Cobblepot was born into the aristocratic Cobblepot family but was shunned by his parents due to his deformities. As a child, he was raised in the sewers of Gotham City by a family of penguins.

Growing up, he faced rejection and cruelty, shaping him into a bitter and vengeful man. Adopting the moniker "The Penguin," he rose to power in the criminal underworld, using his intelligence and resourcefulness to become a formidable adversary for Batman.

<p>Every dictator has an origin story. After the successful trilogy, based on Suzanne Collin’s books, 2023 gave us the reason why President Snow became the powerful authoritarian he was in “The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snake” (2023).</p> <p>Portrayed by Tom Blyth, we see how Coriolanus’ father was a General that died during the first rebellions, leaving him an orphan. After that, he is set to restore his family’s wealth and becomes a mentor of the Games. From that, he starts his path to villainy by betraying his friends and thanks to his ambition. </p>

Coriolanus Snow - The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snake (2023)

Every dictator has an origin story. After the successful trilogy, based on Suzanne Collin’s books, 2023 gave us the reason why President Snow became the powerful authoritarian he was in “The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snake” (2023).

Portrayed by Tom Blyth, we see how Coriolanus’ father was a General that died during the first rebellions, leaving him an orphan. After that, he is set to restore his family’s wealth and becomes a mentor of the Games. From that, he starts his path to villainy by betraying his friends and thanks to his ambition.

<p>The Joker is arguably the most renowned villain on the list. However, his origins are not precisely “canon,” as he was initially conceived as a psychopathic criminal without a clear past or motivations. Christopher Nolan capitalized on this ambiguity in “The Dark Knight” (2008). In attempting to unravel his origins, Todd Phillips directed “Joker.”</p> <p>In the film, Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian, grapples with mental illness and societal rejection in the crime-ridden Gotham City. Constantly beaten down, he finally snaps after a series of tragic events, embracing chaos and adopting the persona of the Joker. His descent into madness is fueled by a society that has cast him aside, turning him into an anarchic symbol challenging the established order.</p>

The Joker - Joker (2019)

The Joker is arguably the most renowned villain on the list. However, his origins are not precisely “canon,” as he was initially conceived as a psychopathic criminal without a clear past or motivations. Christopher Nolan capitalized on this ambiguity in “The Dark Knight” (2008). In attempting to unravel his origins, Todd Phillips directed “Joker.”

In the film, Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian, grapples with mental illness and societal rejection in the crime-ridden Gotham City. Constantly beaten down, he finally snaps after a series of tragic events, embracing chaos and adopting the persona of the Joker. His descent into madness is fueled by a society that has cast him aside, turning him into an anarchic symbol challenging the established order.

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Review: Ralph Fiennes, an older Macbeth, builds sympathy for a killer with soulful weariness

Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma in "Macbeth"

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“Macbeth” is littered with casualties — and not only on the fictional battlefield. The tragedy has taken down a battalion of the finest directors and actors, who have fallen victim to the play’s real curse: its deceptive dramatic difficulty.

The problem is counterintuitive. Why does a play as spellbindingly theatrical as “Macbeth” excite an audience’s interest only to exhaust it by the end?

Macbeth’s path as protagonist is a strange one. At the start of the play, he’s a war hero with conspicuous scruples. But after he kills the king to secure the throne for himself, he becomes an unchecked tyrant, devolving into paranoia and butchery.

The theatrical lure of the supernatural dimension is irresistible. As a young reader of Shakespeare, I was enthralled by the soaring language, the diabolical atmosphere and the horrifying situation of a character getting his unconscious desire at the cost of his soul.

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I consider “Macbeth” Shakespeare’s most psychological tragedy, but in a way that is completely different from “Hamlet,” which centers on the most introspective character in all of literature. A man of battle, Macbeth isn’t particularly self-searching. His soliloquies come early and they probe his action plans more than they do the root of his feelings.

The psychology in “Macbeth” is externalized. The outer world reflects inner reality. Even the occult in the play is linked to Macbeth’s thoughts. The weird sisters who hail him with prophecies of his future greatness don’t instruct him on what he must do to attain the throne. They stir temptation, but ambition is already festering within him.

The test for the actor playing Macbeth is the handling of those moments in which the audience is granted a fugitive glimpse of the character’s moral and emotional struggles. In the theater, it’s easy to lose sight of Macbeth’s misgivings and regrets amid the thrilling witchery and suspenseful criminality.

“Macbeth” requires agility of focus. One of the reasons the play may have a better success rate on-screen than on the stage is that film has the advantage in being able to move effortlessly between special effects and close-ups.

The latest film version, which stars Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma, combines the best of both worlds. It began as a stage production that was filmed in London and plays in select cinemas on Thursday and Sunday. Fiennes (a distinguished classical stage actor who directed and starred in a film version of Shakespeare’s craggiest tragedy, “Coriolanus”) and Varma (who played Ellaria Sand in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) are in the last week of their run in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s sold-out American theatrical presentation in Washington, D.C.

Directed by STC Artistic Director Simon Godwin, this modern-dress “Macbeth” relies on an adaptation by Emily Burns that largely sticks to Shakespeare’s text. Having watched the film on my laptop, I can’t say that I had the ideal viewing experience to appreciate the full effect of the staging.

I found the murder scenes more harrowing than the artificial wartime spectacle. The witches in their street attire suggest a troublesome girl gang. The way Godwin employs these women as a chorus, viewing scenes they have no part in, gives their watchful presence more significance than I was able to decode. What’s clear, however, is that the Macbeths are in over their heads in their pact with evil.

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Fiennes’ Macbeth is an old warrior, battle-hardened yet weary of spirit. Banquo (Steffan Rhodri), his loyal buddy on the field, seems even older. Caked in gore after a hard-fought victory, they both look ready for retirement, a more temperate spot on the Scottish coast perhaps, preferably not too noisy after all the clamor of their campaigns.

One of the early indications that Macbeth has long been dreaming about being king is his reaction to the witches’ news that he will “be king hereafter.” “Good sir, why do you start and seem to fear / Things that do sound so fair,” Banquo questions him in my edition of the play.

This note in the text is one of those small opportunities that Shakespeare provides to clarify that Macbeth is not merely a puppet of fate. Fiennes doesn’t emphasize the moment, but he does make the most of an early aside in which he is already contemplating removing the king’s eldest son, Malcolm, the heir apparent, from his path to the monarchy.

Lady Macbeth hasn’t yet gotten her talons into her husband. Harold Bloom took delight in the dark irony that the Macbeths have the best marriage in all of Shakespeare. He probably wouldn’t draw that conclusion were he alive to see this production.

Varma’s Lady Macbeth is clearly the dominant force in this household. Her tone is scolding, full of maternal frustration. Her husband’s vacillating nature infuriates her. When Macbeth’s qualms about committing regicide get the better of him, she reprimands him mercilessy. “Bring forth men-children only,” he tells her, kneeling before her and placing the side of his head on her womb, almost as if he might wish to return to such motherly safety.

Slow of speech, Fiennes’ Macbeth gives us a clue as to what Hamlet might be like if he had survived and learned to play the deadly game of power politics. Sigmund Freud no doubt would have chalked up Macbeth’s problems here to his unresolved Oedipus complex. Lurking beneath this military machine is a vulnerable boy who doesn’t want to cross his mommy.

Even before Macbeth lays eyes on the ghost of Banquo at the banquet, he adopts a version of Hamlet’s antic disposition, laughing strangely and behaving erratically. Lady Macbeth seems on the verge of slapping him. When the freshly murdered Banquo crashes the party, Macbeth’s crackup goes into overdrive, suggesting a psychotic break more than a bad conscience.

A Hamlet-spin on Macbeth is inherently problematic. While Hamlet is characterized by deliberation and delay, Macbeth moves through the world like an out-of-control freight train. The character takes pride in the way his violent temper outruns his reason. How else could he have become a decorated general?

The truth is that if Macbeth had even a fraction of Hamlet’s philosophical turn of mind he never would have killed the king. But there’s an upside to Fiennes’ approach. My sympathy for the character grew — a rare feat in my experience of productions of this play. Even when Fiennes’ Macbeth orders the death of the Macduffs, as casually as if he were telling the cook what to make for dinner that evening, he reveals a character tragically lost to himself.

Both Lady Macduff (Rebecca Scroggs) and Macduff (Ben Turner) are devastatingly moving in their actor-proof roles. Shakespeare, a canny architect of the audience’s experience, releases a torrent of emotion in their separate scenes.

At the castle, by contrast, such natural feeling is bottled up. When Lady Macbeth sleepwalks into her culpable death, the most moving aspect is the gruff way her husband moves on with his business.

The paths of the Macbeths diverge with ironic antithesis. Lady Macbeth proves herself to be not a fourth witch impervious to guilt but a mortal woman unable to keep her sins buried.

Macbeth, on the other hand, has lost his capacity to feel anything. Fiennes allows us to register the enormousness of this loss. It’s easier in my experience to identify with and excuse the vaulting ambition of a younger Macbeth. But Fiennes and Denzel Washington in Joel Coen’s 2021 film “The Tragedy of Macbeth” paint vivid portraits of childless, death-haunted men with nothing left to live for except the empty pursuit of power.

'Macbeth'

Not rated Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes Playing: In limited release, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2; 1 p.m. Sunday, May 5; 1 p.m. Monday, May 6 (Laemmle Film Center, Santa Monica only) Info: MacbethinCinemas.com

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Rebel Moon 2 review: Zack Snyder's Netflix sequel has the same flaws

The Scargiver has arrived.

preview for Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver Official Trailer (Netflix)

Whether those viewers were suitably impressed with what they saw to come back for more remains to be seen. However, it's entirely possible that Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver will be greeted with the same critical drubbing .

Given that the movies were filmed back to back, it's not like any changes could be made in response to the reaction (not that Snyder would have, anyway). What it means is that Rebel Moon 2 suffers from the same flaws, even if its pared-down plot marks a slight improvement.

elise duffy, staz nair, rebel moon part two the scargiver

It's unwittingly a slight on the first movie that The Scargiver only needs a brief opening voiceover to catch you up on the events of A Child of Fire . With the round-up movie out of the way, it's time for war.

Kora (Sofia Boutella) and the rebels are on Veldt, preparing the villagers to defend their home against the Motherworld. Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein) is on his way and he's pissed after Kora nearly murdered him, determined to take her back to her adopted father Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee) to pay for her desertion.

And that's it really. The Scargiver has flashback sequences to flesh out the backstories of the various rebels, including four consecutive flashbacks (genuinely) during one group therapy session before the big battle. But there's nothing else here plot-wise: its first half is the training and the second half is one extended battle.

That shouldn't be a surprise since Rebel Moon has always been one movie that was cut into two. Before the screening we attended, Snyder spoke of either trimming down his original script into one movie, or just cutting it in the middle. Having seen both movies, the former might have the stronger option.

michiel huisman, sofia boutella, rebel moon part two the scargiver

The bones are there for Rebel Moon to have been better. As in the first movie, its world-building is extensive and Snyder fans will savour more visually impressive battles captured, of course, in slow motion. (Whether we needed slow-motion grain harvesting sequences is more questionable.)

Snyder also assembled a compelling cast for his Rebel Moon movies, with the sequel allowing Sofia Boutella more emotional beats and for Ed Skrein to attack his hissable villain with relish. You end up wanting to see more of the other rebels, especially Doona Bae's Nemesis, which speaks to the collective strength.

The problem is that it's all just a bit boring. There's not enough plot to justify the two-part approach and while it means The Scargiver is pacier than the episodic, overstuffed first movie, it's not dramatically interesting.

As you'd expect from the war movie setup, there are Heroic Sacrifices and Last-Minute Reprieves throughout the extended battle. These generate a frisson of excitement, but mostly are met with indifference because it's nothing we haven't seen before, down to the Star Wars homages (you better believe somebody loses an arm).

staz nair, djimon hounsou, rebel moon part two the scargiver

Maybe it's the case that when the extended versions of both movies arrive this summer, said to be six hours in total, things will finally click into place for Snyder's vision. Both movies certainly feel stripped down – whether that's character development or even just the action, which is again sanitised and bloodless here.

It's hard to imagine anybody other than hardcore Snyder fans wanting to revisit this world, though. As with the first movie, you're left wishing that with Netflix seemingly allowing him to do whatever he wished, Snyder had chosen to go for the 'full' vision right away.

As Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver ends with a cliffhanger reveal that comes out of nowhere, it'll end up feeling like a threat for most viewers. There's no denying Snyder has created an interesting world – he just forgot to tell an interesting story within it.

2 stars

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver is available to watch now on Netflix.

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Movies Editor, Digital Spy  Ian has more than 10 years of movies journalism experience as a writer and editor.  Starting out as an intern at trade bible Screen International, he was promoted to report and analyse UK box-office results, as well as carving his own niche with horror movies , attending genre festivals around the world.   After moving to Digital Spy , initially as a TV writer, he was nominated for New Digital Talent of the Year at the PPA Digital Awards. He became Movies Editor in 2019, in which role he has interviewed 100s of stars, including Chris Hemsworth, Florence Pugh, Keanu Reeves, Idris Elba and Olivia Colman, become a human encyclopedia for Marvel and appeared as an expert guest on BBC News and on-stage at MCM Comic-Con. Where he can, he continues to push his horror agenda – whether his editor likes it or not.  

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  2. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil movie review (2019)

    Angelina Jolie is one of the last movie stars, although in recent years, Hollywood has seemed mostly unable to fashion projects that would demonstrate why. Her work as Maleficent, the bad queen from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," is a reminder of how electrifying and fun she can be. Jolie first played the part in 2014's "Maleficent," a live-action (but thoroughly CGI'd) fantasy drama that ...

  3. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

    Rated: 8.5/10 • Jan 17, 2023. Rated: 4/10 • Aug 22, 2022. Maleficent travels to a grand old castle to celebrate young Aurora's upcoming wedding to Prince Phillip. While there, she meets Aurora ...

  4. Maleficent 2 review: Disney gives Angelina Jolie her Game of Thrones

    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opens in theaters on Oct. 18. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil finds Jolie back as one of Disney's greatest villains in a sequel that's equal parts rom-com and ...

  5. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

    Full Review | Original Score: 4/10 | Aug 22, 2022. Despite a lackluster third act, Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil still works as a whole, largely thanks to Jolie and Pfeiffer's all-in performances ...

  6. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Movie Review

    Parents say ( 29 ): Kids say ( 52 ): Fabulous costumes, vibrant art direction, and the on-screen dueling of two Hollywood queens -- Jolie and Pfeiffer -- save this from being another uneven, unnecessary sequel. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is even darker and more violent than its predecessor.

  7. 'Maleficent 2' review: Angelina Jolie returns as 'Mistress of Evil'

    Review: Angelina Jolie's 'Maleficent 2' is like a dark and magical 'Meet the Fockers'. Love, war and Angelina Jolie 's supernaturally sharp cheekbones mark " Maleficent: Mistress of Evil ...

  8. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review

    Verdict. Like its predecessor, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is an ambitious fantasy epic that sometimes loses its way when it comes to pacing and tight storytelling. Unlike the first film, though ...

  9. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil: Directed by Joachim Rønning. With Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson, Michelle Pfeiffer. Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.

  10. Maleficent 2 review: Does the Mistress of Evil break the live-action curse?

    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil put every cent of its massive $180 million budget to good use. It really goes to show just how far film has advanced as a whole when a second-rate Disney franchise ...

  11. Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil Review

    Release Date: 17 Oct 2019. Original Title: Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil. The first Maleficent was a magnificently designed, too-densely plotted piece of fairy-tale revisionism, one that — just ...

  12. Maleficent 2 Review: Powerful But Plotty

    Maleficent 2 Review: Powerful But Plotty. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil boasts everything that made its predecessor so popular. Strong and complex female leads, a beautiful mother-daughter bond, eye-popping visuals, a magical spindle that puts someone to sleep, and much more. Perhaps too much more, one might argue, as the story becomes rather ...

  13. 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Review: Sleep, Sleep, My Lovelies

    The happily ever after delivered by Disney's "Maleficent" has vanished like a puff of bilious smoke, as its unhappy, reactionary sequel makes depressingly clear. Released in 2014, the first ...

  14. 'Maleficent 2' Is Pretty Predictable With an Excellent Angelina Jolie

    Oct 15, 2019, 6:19 AM PDT. "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" let's Angelina Jolie spread her wings as she goes to war with a kingdom. Disney. Warning: There are minor spoilers ahead for "Maleficent ...

  15. Review: Maleficent 2 (Mistress of Evil)

    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a beautiful film that is just as empowering to women as the first one. I loved seeing Aurora grow from a naive princess to a magical queen surrounded by faeries, flowers, and sparkles. The movie had a surprisingly high number of casualties thanks to its ruthless villainess, Queen Ingrith.

  16. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review

    T his sequel has got a great cast. It's not just Angelina Jolie reprising her post-fairytale turn as Maleficent from the 2014 film, the wicked witch from the Sleeping Beauty story who isn't ...

  17. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

    Box office. $492.2 million [3] Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a 2019 American fantasy film directed by Joachim Rønning from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, it is a sequel to Maleficent (2014), itself a live-action retelling of Walt Disney ...

  18. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Movie Review

    Altogether, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a resplendent return to the world of Disney's live-action Sleeping Beauty retelling, continuing the first film's themes and giving its female characters as much - if not more - agency than the typically male heroes of fairy tales. The story isn't very strong, but the writers do manage to include ...

  19. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

    Release Date: October 16, 2019. Genre: Action-Adventure, Family, Fantasy. "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" is a fantasy adventure that picks up several years after "Maleficent," in which audiences learned of the events that hardened the heart of Disney's most notorious villain and drove her to curse a baby Princess Aurora.

  20. Why Maleficent 2's Reviews Are So Negative

    Currently, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has a 40 percent tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. On top of that, the sequel will most likely barely make a profit for Disney given its relatively disappointing box office return, which is less than $500 million a month into its theatrical release. The good news, however, is that general moviegoers ...

  21. Maleficent

    May 27, 2023. Oct 9, 2022. Rated: 1/4 • Aug 15, 2022. As a beautiful young woman of pure heart, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) has an idyllic life in a forest kingdom. When an invading army ...

  22. Maleficent Movie Review

    Positive Role Models. Aurora is a sweet, kind girl who's curious and lov. Violence & Scariness. The movie's tone becomes quite dark, and there are. Sex, Romance & Nudity. A couple of kisses, including a romantic kiss betw. Language. Rare uses of insult language like "imbecile" and ". Products & Purchases.

  23. 'Maleficent' Movie Review

    By the time Maleficent, aided by her shape-shifting bff Diaval (Sam Riley), is through playing fairy godmother with the help of three incompetent pixies (Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno ...

  24. 15 Movie Villains and the Stories That Shaped Them

    It's true that, at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki is much more than a villain. Many fans, especially after his own series, considered him now a hero. However, he started as ...

  25. Review: Ralph Fiennes, an older Macbeth, builds sympathy for a killer

    Directed by STC Artistic Director Simon Godwin, this modern-dress "Macbeth" relies on an adaptation by Emily Burns that largely sticks to Shakespeare's text.

  26. Jeff Bridges Returning For 'Tron: Ares,' Disney Sci-Fi Threequel

    Jesse Wigutow and Jack Thorne wrote the script, with Sean Bailey, Jeffrey Silver, Justin Springer, Leto, Emma Ludbrook and Steven Lisberger producing alongside executive producer Russell Allen.

  27. Rebel Moon 2 review

    Zack Snyder endured the worst reviews of his career to date for the first Rebel Moon movie, but it didn't stop A Child of Fire from topping the most-watched Netflix movies list over the Christmas ...