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11 Dystopian Thrillers Like ‘The Hunger Games’

11 Dystopian Thrillers Like ‘The Hunger Games’

movies like Hunger Games

‘The Hunger Games’ is one of the rare instances where the adaptation lives up to the promise of the source material. The film series is set in a dystopian future where every year,  two young representatives from each district are selected at random to take part in The Hunger Games, a televised competition where the contestants fight to the death. 

The dystopian action series received high praise for its theme and message. Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen won over critics and audiences alike. It’s currently one of the biggest franchises of all time, garnering thousands of devoted fans across the globe. So, if you loved watching ‘The Hunger Games,’ here’s a list of movies that we think you’ll like.


1. The Truman Show (1998)

‘The Truman Show’ is, undoubtedly, a true American classic. It epitomizes strong and original storytelling on screen. The plot follows the effervescently charming Truman Burbank who has never left his ideal hometown of Sea Haven. What he doesn’t know is that he is an ignorant star of a reality TV show of epic proportions. His environment is manufactured and all the characters that appear in his life are paid actors playing their designated roles. 

Building on this wildly original premise, writer Andrew Niccol and director Peter Weir take us into uncharted territory. You never really know what could transpire next. Jim Carrey is brilliant as Truman, effectively conveying his fears, desires, and personality. Ed Harris is equally impressive as the reclusive creator of the production. The cinematography is top-notch and lends the film a reality TV feel. ‘The Truman Show’ touches upon our unrelenting desire for conformity while also raising some interesting moral questions.

Watch The Truman Show on Amazon Prime


2. Battle Royale (2000)

Based on a Japanese novel by Koushun Takami, this action thriller laid down the framework for the multiple battle royale video games that would follow. ‘Battle Royale’ tells the story of a bunch of ninth-graders who’re transported to a remote island with maps and different arms. They’re ordered to fight each other for three consecutive days until there’s only one student remaining. All students are forced to wear a metal collar with radar so that the teacher is aware of their location at all times. 

‘Battle Royale’ is often regarded as one of the best films of the 2000s and received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. It was the highest-grossing Japanese language film for a record six weeks at the box office. Over the course of time, it’s garnered a loyal fan base and become something of a cultural phenomenon. The film inspired numerous media, including films, books, comics, and video games.


3. Hanna (2011)

With ‘Hanna,’ Joe Wright offers a unique take on the much-popularized revenge thriller. Saoirse Ronan stars as the titular character, a young girl trained to be an assassin by her father who once worked for the CIA. She only has vague memories of her mother and has lived all her life in isolation with her father. Cate Blanchett portrays a senior agent who’s tasked with eliminating Hanna and her father. Can the sixteen-year-old muster up the courage and put up a fight against the seasoned veteran to keep herself and more importantly, her father safe? 

‘Hanna’ features some exquisitely choreographed action sequences and fantastic performances from its leads. Saoirse Ronan is excellent as Hanna, displaying courage and vulnerability in equal measure. We see the world from her eyes as she struggles to understand the ways of the world outside the one she inhabited. Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Eric Bana turn in impressive performances as well. But, the real credit goes to director Joe Wright who deftly marries a moving coming-of-age story with thoughtful action.


4. Riddick (2013)

In the third installment in the popular Chronicle series,Riddick’ continues narrating the story of a trained mercenary who’s notorious for killing anyone that comes after him. He’s left stranded on a sun-scorched planet after being betrayed by his leader. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against deathly alien predators. The only way out is by activating an emergency beacon. But, that would alert a group of assassins of his presence. This ruthless team of killers led by a mysterious person from Riddick’s past won’t leave the planet without Riddick’s head as their trophy. With time running out and danger catching up to him, can Riddick find a way to make it out of there alive? 

WhileRiddick’ doesn’t do much to advance the franchise’s personal mythology, it’s a fairly enjoyable sequel that stays true to the spirit of the previous installments. Vin Diesel and writer-director David Twohy confirmed that a sequel titled ‘Furya’ is reportedly under development.


5. Ender’s Game (2013)

Based on a 1985 novel of the same name, ‘Ender’s Game’ takes place in an alternate future where the Earth was ravaged by the Formics, an advanced alien race. Decades later, the people of Earth decided to establish a military wing capable of handling such nefarious forces. Andrew Wiggins is the newest recruit in this military training program. Separated from his beloved sister, he’s brought to battle school in orbit around Earth. Can he train himself to become a killing machine in order to save his family and the planet from the imminent danger?

‘Ender’s Game’ offers stunning visuals while giving us a glimpse of life in space. But, it falls flat in tone and characterization. It rushes through pivotal moments and leaves out crucial details from the book. It may not be a faithful adaptation, but ultimately succeeds in delivering an action-packed adventure that’s sure to satisfy most fans of the novel. 

Where to Watch: Netflix


6. The Divergent Series (2014-2016)

Based on Veronica Roth’s best-selling young adult novels, the Divergent series comprises three films: ‘Divergent,’ ‘Insurgent’ and ‘Allegiant.’ All of these three movies are set in a dystopian society whose inhabitants are divided into factions, namely Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, Abnegation, and Amity based on their character traits and human virtues. The story revolves around Tris Prior who finds out that she is Divergent and will never fit into any of the groups. She gets embroiled in a conspiracy by an Erudite leader to destroy all Divergents. Tris narrowly escapes and teams up with theMysterious Four to find out what makes the Divergents so dangerous. This journey will push Tris to the limit as she faces one insurmountable challenge after another. With the fate of the world resting on her hands, she must quickly decide whom to trust in a deadly battle that extends beyond the walls of Chicago.


7. The Maze Runner Series (2014-2018)

This sci-fi dystopian film trilogy is based on a series of books of the same name by James Dashner. In ‘The Maze Runner,’ the first film of the series, we’re introduced to Thomas, who wakes up trapped in a maze with a group of other boys. He can’t seem to recollect anything about his previous life and has recurring dreams of a nefarious organization called the World Catastrophe Killzone Department. By piecing together fragments from his past, he figures out a way out of the maze. 

‘The Scorch Trials’ picks up from the events of the last film and features Thomas and his gang searching for clues about the mysterious organization from his dreams. They eventually team up with resistance fighters to uncover WCKD’s secret plans. 

In ‘The Death Cure,’ Thomas must embark on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the legendary Last City to rescue his friends. On the other side of the ghost town are the answers to the questions that have been plaguing him from the moment he arrived on the maze. Can Thomas and his team of Gladers make it out alive? 

Where to Watch: Hotstar


8. Tomorrowland (2015)

In this age of dark, grim visions of the future, Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ is a delightful retro sci-fi film for the whole family to enjoy. Loosely based on the Disney ride of the same name, ‘Tomorrowland’ is a wholesome throwback to the upbeat adventures of the late ’80s. 

Casey Newton is a bright high school student who does not share a pessimistic view of the people around her. She discovers a mysterious pin that shows her glimpses of a gleeful world. With the help of a jaded inventor, she sets out to uncover the location of the futuristic city. 

‘Tomorrowland’ is directed with open-hearted optimism, a trait that is rare in films today. It also has a great trio of actors in Clooney, Cassidy, and Robertson. They’re terrific together and their effortless chemistry makes for some of the best moments of the film. Despite the uneven storytelling, the film succeeds in its objective of capturing the feeling of endless possibilities perfectly. 

Watch Tomorrowland on Amazon

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9. Mortal Engines (2018)

‘Mortal Engines’ is yet another adaptation of a young adult novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The difference here is that this world is made up of cities called Traction Cities that are mounted on wheels. The inhabitants practice a philosophy called Municipal Darwinism where larger cities can hunt down and absorb smaller settlements. Meanwhile, those in direct opposition to this policy find solace in Asia, establishing an alternate civilization made up of static settlements. Amidst this political tension, two strangers must team up together to stop a much larger conspiracy that threatens to destroy everything they hold dear. 

‘Mortal Engines’ was lauded for its eye-popping visuals and high-octane action sequences. But, the story that heavily deviated from the source material, left fans disappointed. The characters seem underdeveloped and the chemistry between the leads seems forced. Despite its flaws, this fantasy action film is worth a watch for its ambitious attempt at narrating a story of this scale. 

Where to Watch: Netflix


10. Red Sparrow (2018)

Fans of Jennifer Lawrence are sure to love her superlative performance as a Russian spy in ‘Red Sparrow.’ Based on a 2013 novel of the same name, the story revolves around a young Russian intelligence officer who’s assigned the task of seducing a CIA operative in hopes of acquiring highly classified information about the CIA’s penetration into the Russian intelligence program. 

While the action is superbly crafted, the film is let down by a derivative plot and lack of chemistry between the leads. The absence of character exploration makes it quite evident that the film prefers style to substance. It’s hard to fight off memories of ‘Salt’ andAtomic Blonde’ while watching the film. Ultimately, it’s Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of a seductive secret agent that keeps us engaged. She effortlessly slips into this role without a tinge of self-doubt. ‘Red Sparrow’ is a great way to immerse the fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise into the world of espionage thrillers. 

Where to Watch: Hotstar


11. Ready Player One (2018)

Ernest Cline’s fast-paced sci-fi novel was a treasure trove for pop-culture junkies. Steven Spielberg takes this source material to give us a visual treat that is entertaining from start to finish. The film seamlessly combines reality and animation into one big, exciting adventure. That’s a very hard balance to pull off, but ‘Ready Player One’ does this effortlessly, giving the obviously digital environment much-needed emotional weight. 

The film is set in 2045 when the real world is a harsh place to inhabit. To escape from this grim reality, people jump into OASIS, an immersive virtual experience. The eccentric creator of the OASIS, James Halliday has left behind his immense fortune and total control of this universe to the winner of a three-part contest. When Wade Watts conquers the first challenge, it reinvigorates interest in the competition. Sorrento, an opportunistic businessman, wants to gain control of OASIS with the intention of monetizing it. Can Wade and his group of friends find a way to keep OASIS out of the hands of such corporate forces?

Watch Ready Player One on Amazon Prime


There you have it! That was our list of movies like ‘The Hunger Games’ we think you might enjoy. We’d also recommend you to watch ‘Lord of the Flies’ which is sure to have had some influence on Suzanne Collins and ‘V for Vendetta’ that features a central character fighting against a totalitarian regime, much like ‘The Hunger Games.’ 


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