Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is something crazy that only exists in this era of Peak Disney. When in any other point of time could Disney swing things as crazy as a Sleeping Beauty cinematic universe, a Nutcracker sequel or a continuing series of Box Office Poison nature documentaries?
I love all three outings in their own way, but I would be wrong to act like they weren’t odd. The closest comparison I can find is Disney cinematic output in the mid 1980s, but they weren’t as big as they are now. Is this typical for a media conglomerate?
Sequels without a point still bug me. There was absolutely no reason to stretch this material past the revisionist ending that arrived at the end of the first film. Maleficent is now the best friend that Princess Aurora ever had. Fairies are everywhere and nobody wants to start beef with any other magical person. That is until Aurora meets a guy.
Sleeping Beauty doesn’t naturally lend itself to a continued story. Blame the Brothers Grimm for that one. In the original tale, Prince Philip is a part of it because that completes the basic story structure.
Aurora rises above what 19th century audiences can understand, because she was a woman that needed to get married off. When her basic story needs are met, she is written off. Easy as hell.
However, modern audiences come with modern expectations. Female characters must meet increasing demands put upon them by a changing society. Gone are the days, where Prince Philip rescues the lady who can’t work a spinning wheel. Now, he’s the idiot with an evil mom who the film can’t even commit to killing off.
As the film carries on, it becomes a visual feast in need of a plot that carries past 30 minutes. That’s not a knock on the film, for when it has a purpose…it slays all narrative needs.
It’s just that it feels like it had to go for another hour explaining away every nuance to a land that might never be revisited to completion again. But, damn if we’re not going to learn about the geopolitical nature of fairy/human relations.
There is a point in this film when one of the fairy godmothers seemingly die. It’s played up to be a supreme tragedy, but the ending of the film undercuts it by implying she has been resurrected. While it’s a great way to squeeze in B-list British actresses, it doesn’t work.
More than anything, it shows me a film that absolutely refuses to risk anything that might upset any audience. No one suffers and no one ultimately has to lose anything. All losses can be made up in the end. Yeah, a Brothers Grimm adaptation pulls this kind of junk in 2019 or 2020 or whenever you might see this.
This Ultimate Collector’s Edition 4K UHD is loaded like most Disney releases. It reminds me why I don’t watch everything in 4K on Disney Plus. The HDR influences the 2160p transfer into such a rich presentation that it almost envies theatrical exhibition.
Who am I kidding? My home theater setup allows me to ditch arbitrary start times, mismanaged parking lots and obnoxious human zoos of audiences. This disc beats the theatrical exhibition. Mainly because my home theater hasn’t become NATO’s failed human experiment. But, that’s a grip for another time.
Plus, that Dolby Atmos track continues Disney’s rich audio streak in the 4K generation. A Blu-ray is included that is loaded down with extended scenes, outtakes and more. Pick it up if you’re a fan of these outings.