Maleficent Returns To Theatres With Claws (And Cheekbones) Sharpened

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When we last left Maleficent’s magical kingdom, the Moors, King Stefan had been vanquished for being a total jerk, Princess Aurora had fallen for Prince Phillip, and M herself had regained her wings and found love—for Aurora, her adopted daughter. Basically: happy endings for all. But that was 2014. In Disney’s Maleficent sequel, Mistress of Evil, all of that is about to go straight to hell.

Following a flowery proposal from Phillip, Aurora asks Maleficent if she would attend a dinner at the castle. It’s a meet-the-parents moment destined to go badly—and boy, does it. The dinner ends in complete chaos, with Phillip’s mother Queen Ingrith (played wickedly and wonderfully by Michelle Pfeiffer) laying the passive aggression (and aggressive aggression) on thick at Maleficent’s expense. Never one to keep her temper in check, M takes the bait—and the blame for the tragedy that follows.

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Mistress of Evil, penned by Maleficent writer Linda Woolverton, pits the inhabitants of the fairy world against the world of humans—with Maleficent and her kind on one side and Aurora and her in-laws on the other. Phillip’s mother outs herself as the driving force of evil from the start, and it’s obvious that she has only her own dark interests in mind. Her motives, however, remain murky throughout the movie.

Directed by Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Carribean, Kon-Tiki), the movie matches the original in visual FX wizardry, wardrobe and makeup. But the story itself, with its winking performances meant to reward fans through callbacks and nods to the first film, is predictable and not terribly high-stakes. At no point are we ever truly worried that Maleficent and Aurora won’t reunite and prevail. And yet Jolie’s prosthetic cheekbones, twisting horns, and devilish grin remain worth the price of admission.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville and hits theatres October 18. Check out the latest trailer below.