My favorite Disney movie has always been “Sleeping Beauty”. As a young girl I would argue with anyone who would listen about how it was a superior film. I would hold court with my friends, pointing out my evidence: Prince Phillip was the most handsome prince; Flora, Fauna and Merryweather were the kindest fairy godmothers; and – without a doubt – Maleficent was the most sinister, wildest, evilest foe. 

With an army of crows and the ability to shape shift into a freaking DRAGON, Maleficent’s horned headpiece, her icy politeness and her craggy castle didn’t scare me as much as delight me: Maleficent is awesome, and so deserving of the live action treatment. In 2014, Angelina Jolie embodied the evil fairy, a role she seemed born to play – her bone structure is eerily similar to the animated Maleficent from the 1959 original film – and clearly relished. The film went beyond her sneer to show us her tragic, sad story, explaining how, after being betrayed by her first love, the black-cloaked Maleficent became determined to cause pain and suffering to those who wronged her, including Princess Aurora, the daughter of the man who broke her heart. 

In this sequel, Maleficent travels to celebrate Aurora’s wedding to Prince Phillip, and meets Phillip’s mother, the conniving, sinister Queen Ingrith (a deliciously devious Michelle Pfeiffer), who plans to destroy all the fairies in the kingdom. Together with a ragtag group of forest outcasts and a hardened warrior, Maleficent battles to stop her. 

With impressive special effects and costumes, the return of Jolie and the introduction of Pfeiffer, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is a smart, fantastical story that will appeal to all ages (the youngest audience member at my screening seemed to be around 8 years old). I love that, while Aurora is part of the film, it is Maleficent’s struggles and victories that we focus on. She’s always deserved that much attention, and with Jolie wearing the horns, the film is as fun as it is at times harrowing. 

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” lives in the fairytale world, so a happily ever after is inevitable. She might not turn into a fire breathing dragon in this iteration – but Maleficent shines on the big screen once again. Do I have time to be her for Halloween? I just need to find some crows!

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (1 hr, 58 min) rated PG. Playing at the Iowa Theater Thursday, October 31 at 7 p.m.; Friday, November 1 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, November 2 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m.. 

Visit the-iowa.com for full schedule and details.