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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • Composed by Geoff Zanelli
  • Disney / 72m

Very successful but not seemingly very well-loved, I’m not sure how many people were really sitting there counting the days until a sequel to Maleficent came along, but still – here it is, Mistress of Evil. Angelina Jolie is back, importantly including her cheek bones, but many of the behind-the-camera team are not, including director Robert Stromberg (whose film was, if nothing else, visually resplendent). In fact the first film’s greatest legacy is its wonderful score by James Newton Howard, one of his best, and while he’s not back either, his music is – Geoff Zanelli (who scored the director’s previous film, the last Pirates of the Caribbean) having taken on an almost Ken Thorne-like role at times here, heavily leaning on Howard’s music not just when quoting it directly but seemingly building the “fresh” material almost entirely from thinly-veiled variants on the Howard score, as if he’s trying to avoid directly quoting the temp-track when actually this is one of the rare occasions when quoting the temp-track would be fine.

Howard’s music was genuinely phenomenal so it’s nice to hear it again: classic fantasy scoring, with soaring themes, thunderous action music, magical choral might and twinkly, playful light-hearted moments. Zanelli does an impressive job reworking it and adds a few new colours (including a striking one provided by some sort of dulcimer). Some of the original material is also very strong – around the middle section of the score the composer starts doing more of his own thing. I love “We’re Dark Fey” (whatever that means), a rollicking action track; “The Dance of the Fey” (there they are again!) is also impressive and is followed by “Back to the Moors”, which is wonderful. There’s a whole string of really good action tracks going through that sequence – “I’ve Made My Choice, You’ll Have to Make Yours” being another, and just before that there’s some deliciously demonic choral chanting in “Your Majesty, They’re Coming from the Sea”. Writing something distinctive around all the recycled music was always going to be hard – and Zanelli’s done a fine job of doing it. It’s a bit ironic (given he’s basically doing an impression of someone else) but this is undoubtedly the strongest album I’ve heard from him so far.

Rating: ****

Also see:
Maleficent James Newton Howard | |

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  1. Jules (Reply) on Monday 21 October, 2019 at 09:23

    I really liked Goodbye Christopher Robin, although not sure how much of that is Brion. Will definitely have to check out at least the og Malificent, never got around to that one.

    • Anthony A (Reply) on Monday 21 October, 2019 at 19:03

      Jules, you MUST listen to Newton Howard’s original, it’s one of his best I think.