10 Popular Movies That Fail to Bring Out Their Core Message

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By Wanda

Movies that miss their own point aren’t necessarily bad movies. Many of these films receive critical acclaim, achieve commercial success, or even both. It’s not rare that a movie misses out on the message it is trying to convey.

Books adapted into films, mostly undermine the central message, especially when they hugely vary from the original text. Furthermore, films that deal with satire miss out on what they’re trying to represent and are victims of social criticism. These movies undermine themselves through specific scenes or thematic elements throughout the film. We’ve compiled a list of 10 movies that lose out on sending their central message to the audience.

1. Encanto, a 2021 release

The ending of Disney‘s Encanto proves the victory of unity and empathy over magical powers. However, the revival of both Casita and the Madrigal family’s powers deviates from the thematic message of sacrifice for the greater good. The film aimed for a more conventional and uplifting conclusion.

2. Thank You for Smoking, a 2005 release

Thank You for Smoking slams corporate manipulation of American culture, but it unknowingly glorifies its protagonist, Nick Naylor, despite his role in the tobacco industry. This paradoxical highlight can be seen as a glitch in the film’s overall message.

3. Apocalypse Now, a 1979 release

Apocalypse Now depicted the corruption within the military-industrial complex during the Vietnam War. However, its intense scenes and cinematic style often serve as a misinterpretation of whether it supports war or is against it.

4. The Searchers, a 1956 release

The Searchers is a film that criticizes racist Western conventions, with John Wayne’s character standing against the white savior cowboy archetype. However, the film’s enduring celebration of Ethan Edwards has led to misinterpretation and social critique, raising questions about its legacy.

5. Black Panther, a 2018 release

Black Panther revolves around Wakanda’s decision to transcend beyond and address global issues through T’Challa and Killmonger. While it touches on complex themes of racial injustice and global engagement, the film’s resolution falls towards a moderate approach, critiquing radicalism, and leads viewers to ask whether it realizes the potential impact of Wakanda’s involvement in the world.

6. The Wolf of Wall Street, a 2013 release

The Wolf of Wall Street revolves around Jordan Belfort’s financial crimes but is often remembered for glorifying his extravagance. This contradictory portrayal, combined with Belfort’s relatively light punishment, has led to a misinterpretation of the film’s stance on financial fraud.

7. Barbie, a 2023 release

Greta Gerwig‘s Barbie movie is internally contradictory, such as proposing a capitalist solution while trying to fight capitalism. The film’s resolution and the real-world doll release may also seem to miss the essence of the character, suggesting a misinterpretation of the film’s central message.

8. The Hobbit Trilogy, released over 2012 and 2014

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is popular for its concise, standalone adventure. The decision to expand it into a trilogy of films deviated largely from the source text and lost the essence of the story. A faithful adaptation would have been better, as observed in Peter Jackson’s successful Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit trilogy kept away from Tolkien’s vision of a compact Middle-earth adventure.

9. Natural Born Killers, a 1994 release

Natural Born Killers criticizes media sensitization of violence, referring to serial killers as celebrities. However, it is questionable whether the film glorifies violence despite its anti-violence message. This issue persists in contemporary antihero crime media, which may come out as glamorizing violence.

10. I Am Legend, a 2007 release

The movie adaptation of I Am Legend diverges from the original novel, more so, towards its ending. The theatrical ending observes Neville as a hero and deviates from the book’s original theme that he is the real monster, resulting in a more ordinary post-apocalyptic film.