- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2020

One of Disney’s fiercest and, apparently most misunderstood villains, continued her complex cinematic origin story last year much to the delight of movie audiences worldwide.

Now available on ultra-high definition, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 119 minutes, $34.99) once again stars Angelina Jolie in the title role that picks up her character’s story five years after the incidental death of King Stefan during a battle with Maleficent and the taking back control of her beloved Moors.

Appointing her human adopted daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) Queen of the Moors, Maleficent soon learns that Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson), of the human Kingdom of Ulstead, has finally proposed to Aurora, much to the witch’s displeasure.

After an uncomfortable meeting between Maleficent and Philip’s parents, King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) at the Ulstead royal castle, chaos ensues when nefarious plans come into play.

Specifically, King John is supposedly cursed by Maleficent to sleep forever and the Queen Ingrith looks to steal the love of Aurora and ultimately control the Moors.

A nearly fatal shot from an iron bullet soon follows Maleficent’s departure from the castle, but she is saved by one of her Dark Fae kind and learns the truths of her species and why she is so special.

While Maleficent heals, a war unfolds between uniformed humans and the creatures of the magical Moors orchestrated by the queen. Can Maleficent learn her true heritage and return to stop the queen and save the day?

Miss Jolie carries the film throughout with a devilishly droll performance backed by her beautifully deigned computer-enhanced wings, costumes and gaunt, fanged features.

A close second comes from Miss Pfeiffer, an unrepentently evil character looking to commit mass genocide for the good of humanity.

Director Joachim Ronning’s reimaging of Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis is fulfilled with this latest chapter of her earlier years and a worthy companion to the first film.

However, parents should know that despite featuring plenty of whimsical beings (reference the hedge-hog-like Pinto) and an awesome army of winged adult Dark Fae, some horrifying deaths of very cute creatures do occur during the film especially in the end battle and in the scary laboratory of the de-winged pixie Lickspittle (Warwick Davis).

4K in action: Despite only the use of 2K source material for the 4K upscale, the visual results are strong, clear and colorful throughout as a collection of highly complex, digitally enhanced environments sparkle under the scope of UHD.

The Moors are a wondrous, lush world bursting with glowing flowers, fairies, ogres, pixies and talking tree giants. The Kingdom of Ulstead offers classical medieval architecture within and around an enormous castle complete with an ornate dining hall.  The lands of the Dark Fae are both cavernous and mountainous amid cloud formations and massive rock structures.

Clarity truly complements a saturation of color in such moments as the head of a fairy, floating amid flowers, getting magnified by a drop of water, the magnificent spread of Maleficent’s dark wings being backlit by glowing neon green plasma or the bones of a dragon-sized Phoenix seen encased by glowing orange light.

Best extras: A paltry collection of four featurettes (roughly 12 minutes in total) on the Blu-ray disc cover the Fae species, the actors’ memories of Aurora and Philip’s wedding (including a few faux camcorder congratulations from guests), the flight design and visual effects’ of Maleficent as well as the Forest, Jungle, Desert and Arctic Fae’s wings, and the merging of practical and digital effects in some of the fantastical locations.

Viewers also get two inconsequential extended scenes and an obligatory, though not very amusing, gag reel.

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