'Maleficent' Dares to Go Where No Disney Film Has Gone Before and Sends a New Message to Audiences Both Young and Old
The summer movie lineup is usually something that can be fairly easily predicted: superhero films will take the lion's share of the attention, with a few raucous comedies and a horror movie or two rounding out the list of must-sees. For the summer of 2014, however, that has not been the case; at least, not according to the box office reports. Breaking all of the usual norms is 'Maleficent,' starring Angelina Jolie as the title character with cheekbones that could possibly be used as deadly weapons (not that she needs them - she is seriously terrifying in a way that not even the Disney cartoon could get across).
What is it that has made 'Maleficent' such a hit? It is, in fact, the only non-superhero film to top $600 million in international box office sales. It is not for lack of promising or successful films in the summer 2014 lineups; in fact, this summer has seen riotous comedies such as 'Neighbors,' a surprisingly well-received 'Godzilla' remake, and several sequels to major franchises. So what has given 'Maleficent' the power to stand its ground in the face of such popular and powerful fellow films? Some will undoubtedly say that it is due to Angelina Jolie's incredible presence on film, and the way she brings this Disney villain to life in a way that will inspire a surprising depth of emotion in the most apathetic of viewers. It cannot be disputed that the multi-talented actress has the singular ability to carry the film on her shoulders with little to no help.
Others will say that it is the popularity of the Disney brand; in the past five years, we have seen major hits from Disney with 'Tangled,' 'Brave,' 'Frozen,' and now with 'Maleficent.' While this film does not follow the "typical" Disney film plotline of girl meeting boy and falling in love (in fact, it totally turns that stereotype on its head and makes a complete mockery of it), it is that much richer for its portrayal of the importance and power of different types of love, following somewhat in the footsteps of 'Frozen' in this regard. Whatever it is that has made the tale of Sleeping Beauty's nefarious villain so popular, it is clearly working.
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