Movie review: Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
If you were enchanted by Maleficent or any other live-action Disney princess movie churned out over the years, this sequel will cast another spell on the built-in audience of mums and young girls.
For everyone else, it is a fairly harmless way to spend two hours.
From the moors and castle grounds to the home turf of the dark fae and Maleficent and Aurora's sumptuous wardrobes, there is a grander sweep and heightened visual dazzle.
Angelina Jolie is back as the titular anti-heroine, only with less menace and a touch more melancholy.
Interestingly, she married Brad Pitt when the first movie came out in 2014, and they finalised their divorce this year.
I could be reading too much into it, but Jolie has alluded in interviews that she did not feel strong, safe or free in the last few years, and it took a while to find herself again.
So it is not a stretch that her personal troubles possibly informed her performance this time round.
Unfortunately, not by much.
I find myself missing Jolie the Oscar winner, as the undemanding role really does not require her to act much - the CGI-ed cheekbones, make-up, horns and costumes do most of the work.
Not even when Maleficent embarks on her journey of self-discovery, during which she realises the true extent of her powers, gets acquainted with her own tribe of dark fae (led by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and transforms into a fairytale superhero of sorts, do we feel much for her.
You also won't be as invested in her evolving relationship with Aurora (Elle Fanning, disappointingly falling into damsel-in-distress mode at times) because Michelle Pfeiffer is here to steal the show from everyone as the mother-in-law from hell.
Once Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) proposes to Aurora, his deliciously devious mother Queen Ingrith (Pfeiffer) sets into motion Maleficent's demise and kick-starts a war between humans and fairies.
It is always a treat seeing Pfeiffer breaking bad, and when she's going up against someone like Jolie, boy is it good.
FILM: Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
STARRING: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley
DIRECTOR: Joachim Ronning
THE SKINNY: Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) 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.