The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, launched a new love in the 2010s for young adult dystopian fiction. The Wizarding world was out and rebellion against an oppressive future authority was in. The story took place in the nation of Panem where humanity has been divided into districts that must literally fight for their food. Volunteering to represent District 12 is Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), going in place of her sister. She is thrown into a battle royale competition to the death of other young people fighting for their districts. But the games are more than what they seem as Katniss slowly uncovers the sinister plot behind such aggressive police state.
The Hunger Games was a big success of a movie upon its debut that it would lead to the sequels of Catching Fire (2013), Mockingjay Part 1 (2014), and Mockingjay Part 2 (2015). It also led to a series of other post-apocalyptic movies that followed, most of them underdog stories about one person trying to make a difference in a future that seems doomed. If you’ve blown through all the Hunger Games movies in a massive marathon and still have an itch to scratch, consider these ten movies with similar stories and traits.
The Maze Runner
Based on the book series created by James Dashner, The Maze Runner finds the teenager of Thomas waking up with no memory in a lush yet contained environment. He meets with other kids who have experienced the same thing, unsure where they are and who is controlling such a place. There is distrust between them, they’ll have to learn to work together when monsters start attacking them from a mysterious maze. If they can navigate the maze, they may be able to escape from prison. Or they may just be venturing into a dangerous world. The Maze Runner was successful enough to go onto the sequels of The Scorch Trials (2015) and The Death Cure (2018).
The War of the Planet of the Apes
As the third entry in the 21st-century remake of Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes takes place in a world where the human numbers dwindle as the apes slowly take control of the land. Their lives are still threatened, however, by an evil general who seeks to wipe them all out. The apes leader, Caesar, is also still struggling to get over the death of his betraying rival Koba. But Caesar may find redemption in caring for a little girl, bringing a whole new perspective to his brutal war with the humans. Directed by Matt Reeves (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), this trilogy closer features some exciting dystopian action with a cast of live-action and motion-caption actors that includes Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, and Judy Greer.
The Earth of the future has become so contaminated that one clean spot on the planet is the paradise referred to as the island. It seems like the perfect utopia where everything is provided. But the inhabitants of Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta start questioning the isolated and strict nature of such an island, as well as the scientists who run the compound they occupy. This mixture of high-concept science fiction and fast-paced action comes from director Michael Bay (Armageddon) and stars Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Steve Buscemi.
If you’re looking for some more action with Jennifer Lawrence taking charge, consider giving the spy thriller of Red Sparrow a chance. Lawrence plays the famed Russian dancer of Dominika Egorova who struggles to care for her mother. She comes into contact with Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation who offer medical care in exchange for seducing and killing. She soon finds herself becoming a secret agent as she takes on more dangerous Russian missions of seduction and murder. Directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine) and based on the novel by Jason Matthews, this spy thriller additionally features the talents of Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons.
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road depicts one of the most hopeless futures ever put to film. Resources have dried up, the population has dwindled, and the sun no longer shines in this grim world. A nameless man and boy travel the wastelands with a shopping cart in search of food and shelter. The few humans they run across are just as desperate for resources, leading to deception and violence at every turn. Directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition), this dark and somber post-apocalyptic drama stars Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Molly Parker, and Garret Dillahunt.
Mad Max: Fury Road
As the fourth film in the Mad Max saga, this entry finds the anti-hero wandering into the desert territory of the ruthless leader Immortan Joe. He rules his community by limiting their water and running with a convoy of white-skinned warriors who paint themselves in chrome. Max finds himself helping out the warrior Furiosa who plans to liberate the many wives forced to bear children for Joe. They try to outrun Joe’s many forces but realize they can only accelerate away for so long before they’ll have to make a U-turn and fight back. Directed by George Miller (Mad Max, Mad Max 2), this action-packed picture of jaw-dropping visuals and car chases was nominated for ten Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and features a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton.
As one of the more direct comparisons to The Hunger Games, Battle Royale was Japanese action picture so brutal in its depiction of school kids murdering each other it was banned in the US for quite some time. The film depicts a dystopian future that has grown so bitter about the destructive youth that the government has opted to randomly select a 9th-grade class every year to compete in a battle royale game on an island. On the island, the students must fight to survive where only one winner can be declared after all others are killed. A mixture of dark satire and intense action, the film is based on the novel by Koushun Takami and features a cast that includes Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama, Tarō Yamamoto, Masanobu Andō, and Kou Shibasaki.
The Running Man
While Battle Royale may be compared to the action and brutality of The Hunger Games, The Running Man certainly matches the dystopian aesthetic of televised combat. Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film is set in the future where television entertainment has reached a point where viewers are willing to watch convicts flee for their lives. Living in a police state, Ben Richards finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit and is now forced to run for his life as a runner in a game where he is hunted for sport. He’ll have to contend with such themed killers as Fireball, Captain Freedom, and Dynamo. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser (The Cutting Edge), this dystopian action picture stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, María Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, and Richard Dawson.
Based on the book series by Veronica Roth, Divergent portrays a world where humanity has divided into groups that have become separated based on their virtues. The factions include Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intellectual). But there is one level of person that is not welcomed among any colony: the Divergent. When Beatrice Prior learns that she is part of the Divergent, she decides to set out on exposing the corruption of a seemingly perfect society that has come to form such factions. Directed by Neil Burger (Limitless), this action dystopian tale stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q, and Kate Winslet.
Alita: Battle Angel
Based on the hit manga series, Alita takes place in a dystopian future of cybernetics and crime. The lonely Doctor Dyson Ido searches through a junkyard for parts and makes the discovery of the remains of the robot girl Alita. He brings her home and restores her back to live but she is activated without any memory of where she came from. While she tries to remember, she explores the city she occupies, packed with other cyborgs of dangerous intent. While trying to protect the doctor who raised her and a boy she has fallen in love with, Alita finds herself battling her way up to the top of a sea of corruption, kept flowing by dangerous people who have an interest in the robotic girl. Directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) and produced by James Cameron (Avatar), this special-effects heavy sci-fi/action picture stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, and Keean Johnson.