My first impression of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil questioned how much of the magical side of the river was animated. I wondered where did the performers end and the CGI teams jump in? At first, I felt that the movie used too much green screen.
However, there weren’t seams where a character didn’t mesh with their surroundings. They were all successfully placed in the fantasy world of the story. I needed to get over wondering “how?” so that I could enjoy the spectacle.
As I started to write this review, I realized that the synthesis was successful. I never thought of the fairies and the others in the magical world as actors and actresses. The seamlessness extended beyond perfectly aligned lighting. The movie made the Fey characters seem real.
Early in the film, there was some creative use of the camera. It flew playfully through the enchanted moor. All of the Fey characters were bouncy and energetic and full of life. The humans were plodding drudges in comparison. As the film progressed, the playfulness was lost. However, that matched the increasing danger of the climactic battle.
The castle was a weak spot to the illusion. The practical effects of the ramparts being crushed were incompatible with the magic of the continuing battle. It was jarring. The lacy castle seemed rooted in mangled physics rather than magic and imagination like the land across the river.
I was grateful that the film corrected my pronunciation of Maleficent. It is one of those words where changes at the end of a word affect how you say the beginning. I was thinking that the word started “MAL-e-.” That makes the rest of the word awkward and I wanted to add an extra vowel. However, the stress is on the second syllable “ma-LE-fi-cent” so that the name ends up easy to say.
In the credits, I noticed at least a dozen people labeled as apprentice or trainee. I liked that. That helps add to the talent pool of professionals who can present a story as magical and energetic as Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.