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13 Dystopian Thriller Movies Like The Hunger Games

13 Dystopian Thriller Movies Like The Hunger Games

movies like Hunger Games

From The Maze Runner Series (2014-2018) to Battle Royale (2000), here are 13 movies like The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is one of the rare instances where the adaptation lives up to the promise of the source material. Suzanne Collins’ original novel series was a world-wide bestseller that was largely aimed at young-adult readers. It’s set in a dystopian future where every year,  two young representatives from each district are randomly selected to take part in The Hunger Games, a televised competition where the contestants fight to death.

While it was speculated that Collins borrowed the idea for Hunger Games from the Japanese novel Battle Royale, the author insists she’d already finished a draft before she first heard of the novel. It’s important to note that Battle Royale wasn’t the first novel/story to deal with such themes. The idea of humans hunting down fellow humans within a controlled environment was first shown in the 1932 American film The Most Dangerous Game. Then there was William Golding’s literary treasure, Lord of the Flies. Most of these stories about violent human societies use the scenario to comment on present day youth and changing social norms.

Collins’ Hunger Games not only deals with social themes, but also explores human themes through profound characters. The story largely unfolds from the perspective of 16-year old Katniss Everdeen. The dystopian action series received high praise for its theme and message. Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen won over critics and audiences. It’s currently one of the biggest franchises of all time, with devoted fans across the globe.

So, if you’ve loved The Hunger Games, here are similar movies you’ll enjoy:

 

Movies Like Hunger Games

1. Lord of the Flies (1963)

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Peter Brook’s Lord of the Flies is adapted from William Golding’s highly acclaimed 1954 eponymous novel. From Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games novel series, the themes of survival and dystopian society were chiefly inspired by Lord of the Flies. The story revolves around a group of English public school boys who crash-land on a remote tropical land. No adult survived the crash. So, it’s up to the boys to survive as a community before they get rescued.

This naturally leads to electing a leader and adopting rules to maintain an order. Soon, conflicts appear in the fledgling society. While Lord of the Flies unfolds as an expressionistic nightmare tracking down a group’s psychological downfall, Hunger Games does more world-building and impressively expands upon Golding’s themes.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

 

2. Logan’s Run (1976)

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Michael Anderson’s Logan’s Run is based on Clayton Jacobson and William Nolan’s dystopian sci-fi novel of the same name. It’s a colorful, influential, and entertaining film in the genre, though it hasn’t aged very well. The story is set in the year 2274, where human-kind lives inside a domed high-tech megalopolis. In this city, humans only live for pleasure, and die by the age of 30. Those who refuse to sacrifice themselves in that ecologically balanced society are termed Runners. An elite group of soldiers called Sandmen are tasked to hunt down the runners.

Logan’s Run, like Hunger Games, puts young adults in danger. In fact, citizens over the age of 21 are sentenced to death in the novel.

Where to Watch: Archive.org

 

3. The Truman Show (1998)

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Truly a classic, The Truman Show 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’s a 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 would 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 interesting moral questions.

Watch The Truman Show on Amazon Prime

 

4. Battle Royale (2000)

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Based on a Japanese novel by Koushun Takami, this action-thriller laid down the framework for the multiple battle royale video games to follow. It 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 left. They must wear a metal collar with radar at all times to keep tab of their whereabouts.

Regarded as one of the best films of the 2000s, Battle Royale received widespread critical acclaim upon release. It was one of the highest-grossing Japanese language films. Over the years, 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.

 

5. Hanna (2011)

movies like hunger games
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With Hanna, Joe Wright offers a unique take on the much-familiar revenge thriller. The protagonist Saoirse Ronan plays 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 plays a senior agent tasked with eliminating Hanna and her father. Can the 16-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 lead performances. 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 too. But, credit goes to director Joe Wright for deftly combining a moving, coming-of-age story with thoughtful action.

 

6. Riddick (2013)

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In the third instalment in the popular Riddick book series, we once again get acquainted with the story of a trained mercenary, notorious for killing anyone that comes after him. Stranded on a sun-scorched planet after being betrayed by his leader, he’s left 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 alive?

While Riddick 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.

 

7. Ender’s Game (2013)

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Based on a 1985 novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, 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, at times 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

 

8. The Divergent Series (2014-2016)

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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 the Mysterious 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.

 

9. The Maze Runner Series (2014-2018)

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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. 

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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

 

10. Tomorrowland (2015)

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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

 

11. Mortal Engines (2018)

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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

 

12. Red Sparrow (2018)

movies like hunger games
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Jennifer Lawrence fans are sure to love her superlative performance as a Russian spy. Based on a 2013 novel of the same name, the story revolves around a young Russian intelligence officer 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 evident that the film prefers style to substance. It’s hard to fight off memories of Salt and Atomic Blonde while watching the film. Ultimately, it’s Lawrence’s portrayal of a seductive secret agent that keeps us engaged. She effortlessly slips into this role. Red Sparrow is a great way to immerse The Hunger Games fans into the world of espionage thrillers.

Where to Watch: Hotstar

 

13. Ready Player One (2018)

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Ernest Cline’s fast-paced sci-fi novel was a treasure trove for pop-culture junkies. Spielberg takes this source material to give us a visual treat that is thoroughly entertaining. The film seamlessly combines reality and animation into one big, exciting adventure. That’s a hard one to pull off, but Ready Player One does this effortlessly, giving the obviously digital set-up 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?

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

 

Conclusion

That was our list of movies like The Hunger Games. We’d also recommend The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Cube(1997), The Condemned (2007), The Giver (2014), The New Mutants (2020), The Hunt (2020), and finally V for Vendettathat (2005), which features a central character fighting against a totalitarian regime, much like The Hunger Games.

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