Angelina Jolie is back for Disney’s Maleficent sequel that continues to rewrite the story of Sleeping Beauty’s iconic villain. There will be spoilers, so take care if you haven’t seen Maleficent 2 yet.
Once Upon A Dream
At the beginning of the new movie, we find Aurora surrounded by her fairy subjects, conducting business as Queen of the Moors. The three pixies though have devised a secret plan to lure her to a surprise meeting with Prince Phillip.
Pinto steals Aurora’s crown and with the help of the other magical creatures, she leads her through the forest to a spot where Phillip is waiting to propose to Aurora. The moment is a fun twist of sorts on the Once Upon A Dream scene from Sleeping Beauty where the princess’s animal friends secretly stole Phillip’s clothes and led him to her.
There’s also a little nod to Aurora and Phillip’s dance in Once Upon A Dream when in the new movie Phillip and Aurora embrace and spin around after she accepts his proposal.
Technicolor Wedding Dress
There’s another homage to a memorable moment from Disney’s classic animation during Aurora’s wedding ceremony when the two pixies Knotgrass and Thistlewit [aka the Red and Green fairies] use magic to change the color of Aurora’s wedding dress and argue over whether pink or green looks better.
This is a cute call-back to when the Red and Blue Fairies, Flora and Merryweather, argued over the color of Aurora’s sixteenth birthday dress.
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In Mistress of Evil, their argument over the dress comes to an end when the dress turns blue and the two pixies turn to the blue flower next to them, which is their fallen friend Little, and they both say the color is perfect.
Many fans were disappointed that in her first live-action movie Maleficent didn’t transform into a dragon as she had done in Disney’s original animated Sleeping Beauty, but instead turned Diaval into a dragon instead.
The filmmakers seem to have taken note of that for the sequel by creating a scene where Maleficent rises from the ashes as an enormous dark phoenix, in a moment that recalls her animated dragon transformation.
Just before that moment, Maleficent appeared to die when she was hit by a poisoned bolt from Ingrith’s crossbow which turned her to dust a la Infinity War.
But when Aurora’s tears of sorrow fell on Maleficent’s ashes, it sparked the resurrection of her surrogate mother who as the last of the Phoenix’s descendants has the power of death and rebirth.
Aurora’s tears helping to bring back her mother figure is also a nice nod to and a reverse of how Maleficent’s kiss saved Aurora from the sleeping curse in the first film.
The Spindle of Doom
There’s another call-back to the first Maleficent movie in the scene after Phillip presents Aurora with a Tomb Bloom flower and Aurora goes off to investigate where the flower came from.
After she discovers Queen Ingrith’s secret door and stairway into the castle basement, Aurora hears voices whispering to her which leads her yet again to the cursed spinning wheel, just like they did in the first film.
“[Whispering voices] Aurora.. .. on the spindle of a spinning wheel.”
Mistress of Evil
Of course, after Aurora pricked her finger on the spindle in Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent appeared and uttered her famous line:
“You poor, simple fools. Thinking you could defeat me! The mistress of all evil!”
That title “Mistress of all evil” ended up as the basis of the title for this Maleficent 2 sequel.
But what’s especially interesting is that despite Maleficent’s villainous reputation being redeemed in the first movie, over the five years that followed, Queen Ingrid spread malicious rumors about her in order to foment mistrust and suspicion between the human and fairy populations.
In this live-action universe, Disney’s animated version of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale is like a fake story that Ingrith made up. And given everything else Ingrith does, in this film, she’s the queen who really deserves the title “Mistress of Evil”.
Disney’s Red Wedding
In a perhaps surprising moment for a family-focused film, Queen Ingrid together with her henchwoman goes as far as to orchestrate a Game of Thrones Red Wedding-style scene.
After the Moor-folk is led into the castle’s church for Aurora and Phillip’s wedding ceremony, Ingrid gives the order for her evil sidekick to release the deadly red iron dust to kill all the fairies inside.
It’s a scene that brings to mind the notorious Red Wedding from Game of Thrones with the queen’s guards even barricading the fairy guests inside the building to stop them from escaping the lethal toxins.
Fairy Flower Power
And during the attempted church massacre Pixie Little sacrificed herself to protect the other trapped creatures when she flew into the organ and, after being hit by a ball of a red powder, was transformed into an enormous bloom of blue flowers that blocked the organ pipes, stopping the release of any more toxic powder.
The way that Little and many other fairies turned into flowers or other flora whenever they were hit by the red iron powder reminded me of the scene in Sleeping Beauty where the Red Fairy transformed the arrows from Maleficent’s goons into harmless flowers.
I Am Groot
One of the Moors’ Tree Warriors also sacrificed himself in the church by using his branches to cover and protect the other fairy creatures from the poisonous powder exploding all around them.
It may or may not be deliberate, but the moment feels like a nod to Marvel’s Groot and, spoiler for the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, how he sacrificed himself by shielding the other Guardians with his branches when Ronan’s ship was crash-landing to the ground.
Ingrid The Ogress
By the way, Queen Ingrid seems to be inspired by an interesting character from one of the early Sleeping Beauty fairy tales. There are two parts to Charles Perrault’s version of the story from the late 17th century.
In the first part, a wicked fairy is a villain, but in the second part, the prince’s mother, known as the Ogress Queen Mother, is the antagonist, and as her name suggests she’s a terribly evil character, who like Michelle Pfeiffer’s Queen Ingrid, tries but fails to kill off her daughter-in-law, sleeping beauty.
There’s also a few interesting fashion-related easter eggs that the sequel’s designers purposely included in Maleficent 2.
Aurora’s blue dress that she wears at the beginning of the movie as Queen of the Moors and the pink dress she later wears to her engagement dinner were both deliberately chosen by the movie’s costume designer as tributes to Aurora’s pink and blue dresses from Sleeping Beauty.
And because Elle Fanning who plays Aurora wanted a little added something that specifically paid homage to the animated film, a Sleeping Beauty collar was added to Aurora’s pink engagement dress.
Mother of Dragons
Maleficent’s costume at the beginning of the movie with its “green[ish] color [and] subtle reptile pattern” also tips its hat to her animated dragon form and its green eyes and firey breath.
There’s a fun double easter egg when Aurora argues with Maleficent about her upcoming marriage to Phillip,
“What’s next? You’ll turn him into a goat?”
That line pays off later when Maleficent turns the defeated evil queen Ingrith into a goat. But it’s also a reference to the animated design of Maleficent’s horns which were based on goat horns.