Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Maleficent Mistress of Evil from Disney Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

91

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 118 minutes
Genre: Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, 1080p Blu-ray: DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Ed Skrein, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Warwick Davis
Directed by: Joachim Ronning
Music by: Geoff Zanelli
Written by: Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman-Blue
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: January 14, 2020

“Evil Never Looked So Good”

Synopsis:

“Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.” – Disney Home Entertainment

My Take:

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil carries on the story of Disney’s most iconic villain. The years have been kind to Maleficent and Aurora. Their relationship, born of heartbreak, revenge and ultimately love, has flourished. Yet hatred between man and the fairies still exists. Aurora’s impending marriage to Prince Philip is cause for celebration as the wedding serves to unite the Kingdom of Ulstead and the neighboring Moors. But, when an unexpected encounter introduces a powerful new alliance, Maleficent and Aurora are pulled apart to opposing sides in a Great War, testing their loyalties and causing them to question whether they can truly be a family.

I reviewed 2014’s Maleficent when it was released on Blu-ray and to begin with some of my comments from that article:

As a fan of Disney’s classic fairytales and in particular Sleeping Beauty I really looked forward to Maleficent and wanted to catch it during its theatrical run but never got to. I eagerly awaited its release on Blu-ray and sat down to watch it with my wife. The character of Maleficent has iconic status in Disney Fairytale lore so it was important that the telling of her “backstory” held to that standard. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton’s script does a decent job in establishing a viable connection to the events that shape Maleficent into what she inevitably becomes. Interwoven throughout are the events and or references to the original story. Some of these are faithful while some are altered to support the reshaped/new context.

Here Maleficent is drawn as an evolving character that is capable of being affected by those around her, decidedly wicked when pushed, sympathetic, and ultimately likeable. I thoroughly enjoyed the film’s take on “Diaval”, Maleficent’s crow/minion/companion, and liked the tonal shifts that ranged from light comedy, to drama, to action adventure. Yes, at times it’s a bit uneven but not detrimentally so. Probably the main reason I had high hopes for Maleficent was the presence of Angelina Jolie in the title role and she didn’t let me down. She is as charismatic as ever and nails every line, gesture, flick of a finger, furrowed brow and evil cackle. I loved her performance and felt that she shared excellent chemistry with the enchanting Elle Fanning who does a wonderful job in her portrayal of Aurora. The production elements are top notch and support the film’s thematic tone with aplomb.

So, here we are five years later with a sequel to an already complete story. As a fan of the original I couldn’t help but want to see these characters again. The story here is less fairytale like and is more fantasy adventure. In furtherance of her agenda the villain here (played to spot on perfection by Michelle Pfeiffer) uses fear and prejudice to incite those around her. Maleficent, Aurora and even her own family/subjects are the victims of her scorched Earth approach and diabolical methods. I think those parts of the story play out well although, extremely formulaic in service to the film’s thematic tone. What seemed to have been inserted using a shoehorn was the subplot involving the background of Maleficent’s origins and the hidden society of fairies, like herself, that have lived in exile waiting for the right time to reclaim their rightful place. This of course lays the foundation for the ensuing conflict in the latter part of the film as well as the outcome that you can see coming from miles away.

So, while I did have some problems with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil they weren’t enough to keep me from enjoying it for what it was intended to be and ultimately is. A feel-good and, whimsical fantasy adventure that I wound up enjoying essentially as much as the original. Much of this is owed to the terrific production elements and solid turns by the members of the primary cast. If you liked the first film I suspect that this one will charm you as well.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was rendered from an 8K source and finished on a 2K DI. This is a fantasy-based film that is essentially boldly colorful throughout, and this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a discernible increase in detail and emboldened chromatic highlights the image appears sharper and vibrant when compared to the 1080p version. Primary colors are pleasingly rich while whites appear gradational and punchy. The spectrum of secondary colors literally pop off of the screen. The opening sequences in the Moors provides a glimpse of what it to come, but it’s the arrival in the kingdom of Ulstead that offers the bonus that the presentation’s wide color gamut has to offer. The combination of rich color, sepia, and gradational gray tones look stunning.

I also enjoyed the implementation of HDR. The added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the low-level scenes, especially those that take place in realm inhabited by the fairies, is immediately noticeable. Where called for the cinematography makes use of shadows, streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here is used very well, drawing upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. The blend of shadow detail/depth of field offset by the presence of light at varying levels, looked very natural.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the superb rendering of detail. The exterior sequences and CGI featured in the film have appreciable depth which has an enriching, and eye-catching aesthetic. The difference between viewing Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t vast but, there is no question that it benefitted from the increase in resolution, emboldened color and high dynamic range treatment.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics and discrete sound effects. This is done very well and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The mix effectively places effects/sounds within the soundstage which place you within the scene, in turn, adding an enriching element that heightens the intended feeling like something is falling from above, moving through the room, or emanating from a specific location. While this is not what I would regard as an aggressive Atmos mix, it is an active one, that complimented the source material and made for an entertaining listening experience.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
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Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone based upon the mood of the scene. The chroma range is broad and hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are beautifully rendered with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen are exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a pristine quality that is free of video related artifacts.

The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD (Atmos core – UHD version) and the DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio soundtrack (on the Blu-ray) makes effective use of the surround platform and offers detail rich sonic clarity, and crystalline dialog reproduction. This mix doesn’t bombard you with aggressive surround sound. It applies it when appropriate and combines discretely placed directional cues with supporting ambience that fills the listening area nicely. The front and rear sound field never collide but work in unison to render the soundtrack’s elements. Dynamic range and bass response are appropriate, adding thematic emphasis and resonating punch when called upon. This is a solid audio presentation that mates well with the source material. Unlike some of the recent lossless soundtracks from Disney I didn’t have issues with dynamic range or the overall volume of the mix.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Blu-ray
    • Extended Scenes
    o The Queen Comforts Aurora – Queen Ingrith takes advantage of Aurora’s fragile state to gain her confidence and accelerate the wedding plans.
    o Philip and Aurora Dance – Aurora struggles to gain Queen Ingrith’s approval when she realizes how she is viewed among aristocracy.
    • Featurettes
    o Origins of the Fey – Angelina Jolie discusses Maleficent’s lore, her newly discovered origins, and the diversity of the cast who portray the Fey.
    o Aurora’s Wedding – Elle Fanning gushes over Aurora’s fairytale wedding; plus, hear from some special guests as they give their best to the bride and groom.
    o If You Had Wings – Get a glimpse of the elaborate visual effects that allow the Fey to take to the skies.
    o “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” VFX Reel – Discover how a perfect blend of practical and visual effects were used to create the stunning landscapes in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.”
    • Outtakes – Uncooperative cats, a serious case of the giggles and even the “floss dance” found their way into Ulstead.
    • “You Can’t Stop The Girl” – Music video performed by Bebe Rexha
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is the sequel to 2014’s Maleficent and, while it may be an unnecessary follow up, I didn’t mind the film’s bit of escapism through its whimsical tale of adventure that featured familiar characters, charming performances and top notch production elements. It comes to Blu-ray from Disney Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring excellent Ultra HD video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a middling supplemental package. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil only qualifies as a purchase for fans. Otherwise, I would recommend starting with a rental.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems