Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Zombieland: Double Tap

If you take five years and longer to make a sequel, trouble awaits on the horizon.

I am combining my reviews of the recent Maleficent and Zombieland as they both have joint strengths and weaknesses. While neither is a complete waste of time, you are likely to forget both very quickly.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent Mistress of EvilTo be quite honest, Angelina Jolie is at her best playing a character resembling herself. Think back years ago when she and her boyfriend Billy Bob Thornton wore vials of each other’s blood hanging from their necks. Good grief, I always suspected that this actress’s secret talent involves revealing her wings and thorns.

The limited strength of this film is found in the special effects and the undeniable appeal of the character played by Ms. Jolie. The climactic battle between the humans led by their Queen, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ms. Jolie’s flying army of dragons saves the movie from its lackluster plot development. Regardless, it lacks the appeal of the original film released in 2014 and is further hurt by some of the worst performances by male actors ever seen. And that includes the talented Chiwetel Ejiofor in his role as the intellectual leader of the dragons.

As Princess Aurora, Elle Fanning plays the adopted human daughter of Maleficent who has accepted the proposal of the Queen’s son, played in a stunningly lackadaisical fashion by the otherwise talented Sam Riley. Ms. Pfeiffer’s Queen Ingris uses the proposed marriage to try to destroy Maleficent and her kingdom which results in the battle described above.

Quite frankly, the only real allure of this film is a storyline describing how competing nations can find salvation through compromise. As I watched this film, I couldn’t help but think of our world today where so many countries stand on the brink of war. Instead of using armies, what is wrong with simply assigning diplomats to find a way to get countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia to compromise and shake hands? Why is it necessary for Muslims to hate one another?

Simply because countries disagree with each other doesn’t mean that they cannot find a way to peacefully co-exist. Afterall, if a dragon kingdom and humans can find peace and harmony, then why can’t Turkey and the Kurds do the same?

Zombieland: Double Tap

Zombieland Double TapThis film functions as a one-stop comedy act off Broadway. Full of one-liners, some of which are very funny, our comic quartet have to show their talents while killing a few zombies.

While the original movie was released in 2009, the sequel is fortunate to use the four original stars. Jesse Eisenberg returns as Columbus, Emma Stone as Wichita, Abigail Breslin as Little Rock and Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee. Though Ms. Breslin is given little to do, Eisenberg and Stone have some very funny moments as a couple who are obviously in love though they fight the prospects of marriage.

However, Woody Harrelson is at the top of his game as a sarcastic killer who enjoys the company of his companions. They all end up occupying the decaying White House only to leave for Memphis where they can experience Graceland. I can only tell you that Harrelson makes this film worth seeing.

The plot basically involves Ms. Breslin’s character leaving with a stoner guitar player where they find refuge in a commune that forbids firearms. Our remaining threesome are joined along the way by some memorable performances by Zoey Deutch as Madison and Rosario Dawson as Nevada. While Madison is a lightweight blonde who has been able to stay alive by living in a freezer, Nevada is a nasty woman who helps our group stay alive as they flee Graceland.

Find a moment where you are bored with life and spend a couple hours watching this idiotic film that dances on the edge of entertainment. Afterall, wouldn’t you really want to see Harrelson and Dawson engaged in a lengthy kiss as they hold each other in their arms?

You can’t beat romance and zombies.