That New Maleficent Trailer Though

I posted not too long ago about how fed up I was with all the Disney live-action remakes, sequels, and sequels to live-action remakes. Then I pointed out that many of the new clips from the upcoming live-action Aladdin movie look amazing (and they keep getting better). That movie has a week to go before the general public will be able to see it, but Disney has already gotten down to business in promoting Maleficent: Mistress of Evil with our first teaser trailer earlier this week. I have to say, it looks promising. The teaser reveals virtually nothing about the plot, but it does drop some hints about the new setting and thematic elements. A lot of plot devices will need to be created from scratch after the conclusive ending of the original film in which Maleficent became a mother figure to Princess Aurora, who was crowned queen of the Moors to unite the magical and non-magical kingdoms

It would be impossible to tell the same story again after how much has already changed by the time this movie begins. Aurora's parents are both dead, and she no longer perceives Maleficent as a threat. That means that an entirely new threat will have to emerge. What that threat is was not revealed in the trailer, but we will probably learn more as we get closer to the release date. It appears that Maleficent is trying to warn a new queen about this mystery threat. The elderly yet imposing queen responds that if she didn't know better, she would think that Maleficent is the one making the threat. If Aurora was supposed to be the queen that unites both kingdoms, why do we have another queen? There is also a king sitting in a throne next to her, but he has no dialogue in the trailer. In a later clip from the teaser, we see the same queen looking out from a dark balcony with an imposing expression on her face. Is this another evil queen for Disney to add to their roster? Could she be Prince Phillip's mother? Or is she from an entirely new kingdom that will be introduced in the upcoming movie?

Much like the first film, this trailer reveals beautifully provocative imagery of the Moors, Maleficent's enchanted kingdom of fairies and magic, as well as references to the original "Sleeping Beauty" fairy tale, including Prince Phillip's proposal to Aurora and the spinning wheel. This imagery is one of the things that made me fall in love with the first movie. Fortunately for us, it looks like Phillip grew out of his awkward wimpy phase from the original film. I could have done without the fan service gimmick at the end, however, which portrayed Angelina Jolie in scantily clad ripped black leather, a far cry from her usual long black robes. Up until now, Maleficent has always managed to imbue a sense of power and danger without ever being overtly sexual, but I will hold off on my opinion for that scene until I learn the circumstances behind it.

My biggest fear about this teaser is the same as the Frozen 2 trailer, which is that lately, Disney has been much better at making trailers than at making movies. They provide just enough footage to keep everyone asking questions and wanting more without actually satisfying that desire until the movie is released. Then all that mystery goes away, and we are often left with a bare skeleton of a story. I would say this trailer succeeds even more than Frozen 2 in terms of keeping us guessing. All of the references to the "Sleeping Beauty" fairy tale and the first Maleficent movie build just enough hype to create an emotional reaction without actually telling us anything new. Even Aurora's question of "What have you done?" as Maleficent's signature green flames burn everywhere hearkens back to when she first learned about Maleficent's betrayal in the first film. Yet, as I said earlier, it would be impossible to tell the same story again because King Stefan, who was the only major antagonist in the first movie, is now dead. Is it possible that the king's role will be taken over by the new queen? Also, is the "Mistress of Evil" subtitle meant to be taken literally, or is it meant to imply that this reborn version of Maleficent is the mistress that stops the evil?

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will be released on October 18th, just in time for Halloween. I'm looking forward to seeing more fairy tale imagery as well as seeing how Aurora fares her new role as queen. I'm not looking forward to their obvious attempt to use Angelina Jolie's sex appeal to sell the movie. I do think it would be interesting to present a queen as the villain because it would be impossible for her to wrong Maleficent in the same way that Stefan in the original did by taking advantage of her romantic desires and naivete. There's still so much that was not revealed in this teaser, but it showed just enough to remind me how much I enjoyed the first film and give me a glimmer of hope that this one will not be as disappointing as I'm sure most of us are expecting it to be.


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