Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

14 blockbusters with sociopolitical agendas (14 items)

Bethan Owen

May 22, 2014

Godzilla is most notorious for destruction, chaos and highly popular movies. But the monster lizard has also always been a (towering) political figure, originally conceived as a sly critique of nuclear testing. He's not the only one; several box office blockbusters have — proven or otherwise — socio-political messages below the surface. Here, we've compiled a list of 14 summer blockbusters that many have argued contain subversive political messages. All opening weekend gross numbers came from Box Office Mojo.

1 of 14. Godzilla

According to US News, the original Godzilla, produced in Japan only a few years after the atomic bombs hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was created to express Japan's scars and anxieties relating to the attacks.

This most recent remake has been adapted to represent more modern threats, including using photos of destruction from events like the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina for inspiration, according to US New. Additionally, the film drew on the events and potential nuclear threat of Fukushima.

"If the film draws a line, it’s the use of nuclear power for weaponry," wrote US News writer Tierney Sneed.

“The question we tried to raise the most in the movie is: We try to control nature, we try to abuse it for our own benefit. Often it’s impossible that we could fully control it and something always goes wrong and actually it’s nature that controls us,” said director Gareth Edwards, as quoted by US News.

Total grossed over its opening weekend: $93,188,384

2 of 14. Noah

According to the BBC, Darren Aronofsky, director of Noah, has been straightforward with his intentions to portray Noah as “the first environmentalist.”

The film portrayal of Noah is concerned with modern-day issues such as overpopulation and preserving the environment, according to Brietbart.

California filmmaker Brian Godawa reacted strongly to the films message. Described by the BBC as someone who "cares for the environment but speaks for many in the religious community," Godwa criticized the film, saying that "'Christians don’t want their sacred story to be turned into a parable for environmentalism!'”

Total grossed over its opening weekend: $43,720,472

3 of 14. X-Men Series

The X-Men series, which features a superpowered and persecuted minority group, has been argued by some to be a depiction of the gay rights movement.

"In its own way, X-Men has become the most subversive modern comic-book franchise, translating for a country of summer moviegoers the entire theater of gay politics," according to Paul Schrodt of The Atlantic.

The film's openly gay director Brian Singer said as much while recruiting Ian McKellan for a lead role in the franchise. "It's not just a fantasy story," Singer told LGBT rights activist McKellen. "It's a parable."

Total grossed over its opening weekend (first film only): $157,299,717

4 of 14. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

"In real-world terms, Winter Soldier basically says that the NSA was invented by Nazis," wrote Entertainment Weekly writer Darren Franich. "And that we let it happen, insisted even, giving up our freedom because we were too afraid to do anything else."

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" focuses on government surveillance and unjust government control, while pitching the United States' military-industrial complex as a villain, says Franich.

The movie may be an over-the-top superhero blockbuster, "But it never loses sight of what it’s talking about," wrote Franich. "The security state, and how appealing it is, and how terrible it can become."

Total grossed over its opening weekend: $95,023,721

5 of 14. The Hunger Games

The dystopian story of teenagers forced to fight to the death in front of a national audience is making a statement about economics, according to Free Enterprise.

"Panem [the fictional country where the Hunger Games takes place] is hyperbole, but it clearly shows the consequences of a society devoid of free enterprise," said Free Enterprise writer Katie Denis.

Denis says the fictional people of Panem are suffering from three key economic drawbacks, namely a lack of economic progression, no free trade, and no market competition.

Total grossed over its opening weekend: $152,535,747
1. Flashback
Kearns, UT,
May 22, 2014

Daniel Snyder writing about Independence Day doesn't know the difference between an F-18 and an F-16? Duh. The president was flying an F-18. Single tail one engine on a F-16 vs a twin tail, two engine plane, F-18.

2. Hank Pym
May 22, 2014

While The Winter Soldier was mediocre political thriller, the comments about the NSA have an element of truth. I'd encourage anyone to do research on Operation Paperclip conducted by the OSS (precursor to the CIA).

For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, SSR = OSS.

3. TallGuy1970
Syracuse, UT,
May 22, 2014

I encourage anyone who is shaking their head in agreement with all of these "reviews" to look up the meaning of the word entertainment and then seek counseling for paranoia. That is all.

4. whitedragonrider milestone
May 23, 2014

I concur, My daughter and I go to the movies to be entertained. We rate the movies, and if the agenda of the film becomes political than entertaining, down go its ratings, it would help if they let you rate a .5% difference, not just 1 through 10 to give a more accurate rating...