Angelina Jolie returns to play the revisionist version of the villain from the 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty in this sequel to her highest-grossing movie.
The plot of the new film sees the imposing but mostly misunderstood titular "dark fairy" drawn out of the verdant realm of the moors, thanks to the upcoming wedding of Princess Aurora (the now-awake Sleeping Beauty, played once again by Elle Fanning) and Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson taking over from Brenton Thwaites).
However, Phillip's scheming mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), is distrustful of Maleficent and secretly plots against her, which leads Maleficent to discover she is actually not the last of her kind.
The biggest joy to be found in this sequel that nobody demanded is the sight of two of Hollywood's most commanding actors - Jolie and Pfeiffer – matching wits on screen. And even then, it's only in a couple of scenes.
Clearly lot of money has been spent on the film's visual aspects: the flawless CGI here presents a wide range of imaginative creatures and settings, including a massively-imposing castle and the heretofore unseen home of the Dark Fairies.
But visuals can only get you so far and mainstream cinema is not exactly lacking in fantasy realms informed by the relentlessly influential films of Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow, Alice In Wonderland). I spent most of the film searching for something resembling a dramatic imperative and never quite found one.
Young ones will no doubt be swept away by the big-budget fairy tale basics on display here but most viewers will probably leave the theatre wondering why the film exists at all.
Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Fine actors wear amazing costumes in this aesthetically sumptuous but narratively pointless sequel.