Some say this is a role Angelina Jolie was born to play, a wicked witch known as Maleficent. Ex-husband Brad Pitt is offering no comment.

This sequel, titled “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” is her second time at the role. It’s currently awing young audiences at AMC Classic Towne Crossing 8, 925 W. Andrew Johnson Highway.

The original “Maleficent” film was Disney’s live-action retelling of its classic “Sleeping Beauty” animated film as seen from the perspective of the villain. This new movie picks up the story five years later.

Here, the fairy queen Maleficent (Jolie) finds her peaceful life disrupted when Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) proposes to Aurora (Elle Fanning) and she accepts. Turns out, Phillip’s mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) plans to use the wedding to divide humans and fairies forever. As protector of the Moors, Maleficent finds herself facing off against Aurora. This is a difficult position, in that Maleficent has become Aurora’s fairy godmother. This forces them to re-examine their complex family ties.

As Maleficent says, “What an awkward situation.”

Directed by Norwegian-born Joachim Rønning (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”), we find Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville returning in their original roles. For this second time around, Dickinson replaces Brenton Thwaies as the prince. And Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein and Pfeiffer join the cast as new characters.

Although Disney claims a trademark on Princess Aurora, the character, in fact, is based on the princess in Charles Perrault’s 1697 fairy tale “The Beauty in the Sleeping Wood,” as well as the heroine who appears in the Brothers Grimm’s retelling of the story, “Little Briar Rose.”

Perrault added the witch to his story. He did not give her a name, but Disney called her Maleficent.

To Jolie, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is more than a chance to wear wings and sport horns again. She sees it as a story about being a good mom.

“Maleficent doesn’t believe that she’s a good mom. She doesn’t see herself as a mom,” says Jolie. “I questioned when I was first a mother whether I was good enough. And I think that a lot of good moms questioned whether or not they’re good enough.”

But she concludes, “For Maleficent, considering she is the mistress of evil, I think she’s doing a pretty good job.”

Moviegoers are calling it “a visually mesmerizing fantasy,” “a wicked ride” and “instantly iconic.”

Jolie merely calls it “a really strong sequel.”

Note: “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is being released to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Disney’s original animated classic “Sleeping Beauty.”

Shirrel Rhoades is a film critic and former media executive. He previously served as executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment and has produced several movies and documentaries. He was also a senior faculty member of New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in Key West, Florida, and Lake Lure, North Carolina. Contact him at

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