This sequel to the 2014 film feels as though it has a stronger narrative, while ensuring that there is still plenty of acton.

It is always difficult to do a sequel to a story which seems to have reached its natural conclusion in the first film and it would be easy to be sceptical about the need for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. But actually, this is a rare case in which the sequel feels stronger than the original.

Set five years after King Stefan’s demise, Queen Aurora rules over the Moors with Maleficent as its protector. But despite her service, Maleficent is still feared in the kingdom of Ulstead, home to Prince Phillip. Things become complicated after Philip proposes to Aurora and wanting her to meet his parents and for her to bring Maleficent along – which leads to disaster and Maleficent is once again casted as a villain.

Written by Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, the narrative seems stronger, pushing the story along from the original beautifully and with the addition of new characters offers a new opportunity to know and understand Maleficent better. This is particularly seen when we are introduced to her fellow Dark Fae’s who want to end the conflict with the humans, we begin to understand that she lashes out when she feels threatened more than malice. Ultimately this is still a story about greed and a battle for control – with the end battle feeling similar to the one in the original.

Visually, there is plenty to be enjoyed – with the lushness and colour of the moors beautifully realised, while the lands in which the Dark Fae’s live are also imaginatively brought to life. Yet, so much of the action takes place in near darkness from the opening scene involving poachers taking creatures from the Moors to the aftermath of the disastrous dinner party that it can be difficult to make out what is going on.

Joachim Rønning’s film is slickly put together, moving from one sequence to the next with style. But the other reason that the film also works so well is the addition of new cast members – including Michelle Pfeiffer as the cool and manipulative Queen Ingrith.  Pfeiffer calm and understated performance makes for a convincing villain – also a perfect match for Angelina Jolie’s wonderfully dry witted performance as Maleficent. Elsewhere, Robert Lindsay also gives a lovely warm (if brief) performance as King John, Chiwetel Ejiofor as the peaceable Conall is a strong addition to the cast.

Overall, with its blend of action, strong storytelling and wonderful range of characters, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a strong and imaginative film.

By Emma Clarendon

Maleficent is available to buy and download now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐