Dystopian science fiction films have grown to be huge in the last few decades. I recently saw Divergent (2014), and it left quite an impression on me.
It is a film that paints a grim dystopian future, with the new society split into factions, with children that are only 16 having to choose one that they will be a part of for the rest of their life.
A lot of popular dystopian films have children, or young adults, as their main characters, possibly to remind society of what is at stake.
The film has some great villains, such as Kate Winslet’s character, Jeanine Matthews, who rely on mind control, threats, intimidation, and alike to stay in control.
All in all, the movie was interesting, and it left me wanting for more. So, as anyone else would in my place, I started looking for similar movies, and I came up with the following list.
If you’re looking for something similar to Divergent, check these out. You won’t be disappointed!
Hunger Games (2012)
The first on the list of movies like Divergent is Hunger Games, based on the novel of the same name. This was and still is one of the best movies featuring a dystopian society.
Hunger Games is set in a dystopian world, where the nation of Panem is split into 12 districts, which are punished for a failed revolt.
They have to select a tribute, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18. They then go to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a sort of battle royale where they have to kill all the other tributes in order to win and return home.
So, when a young girl called Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) realizes that her sister was selected for the Hunger Games, she volunteers as a tribute to take her place.
The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland and others.
The Maze Runner (2014)
Another on the list of movies like Divergent is The Maze Runner, set in a post-apocalyptic world where the accent is not so much on Sci-Fi, but rather on survival.
The plot is fairly simple, unnamed youth wakes up in a metal cage that carries them up, until they reach the surface, a clearing covered in grass, trees, and a bunch of other young men who partially explain the situation.
The unnamed youth learns that all of them woke up here with no memories, with a new person appearing each month. After a while, he remembers his own name, Thomas.
The newcomer assimilates into the group, he does his part in helping them grow food and surviving, in general. However, there is also an elaborate maze filled with monsters that roam at night. So, when Thomas arrives, and everyone tells him that the exit might be through the maze, he starts planning how to escape.
The film stars Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Dexter Darden, and others.
Ender’s Game (2013)
If you want a full-scale science fiction film, then I can recommend Ender’s Game. One of the movies like Divergent that was inspired by a novel of the same name.
Ender’s Game features a future world endangered by an alien race. Aliens called Formics have already tried to invade the world once, but were repelled by Mazer Rackham.
With the alien invasion approaching for the second time, the human military came up with a program to find the next Mazer.
A young boy called Ender finds himself among his fellow cadets participating, but he soon appears a lot more gifted than any others when solving challenges set in front of the group.
With the final attack approaching, Ender must become a master of space warfare by winning simulated battles, repelling the alien invasion, and taking the fight to the Formic home world.
The film stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin, and others.
Chaos Walking (2021)
Another of the Sci-Fi movies that are definitely worth the list is Chaos Walking. This is a film set on a different planet called New World. However, it still feels like a futuristic dystopian world we know and love.
Chaos Walking has a rather interesting plot. The colonists on the planet developed a condition that allowed them to hear each other’s thoughts. They were also involved in a war with a species known as The Spackle.
During the war, the female population of The Spackle was destroyed, as well as half of the male population.
So, things get rather interesting when a ship crashes on the planet, and the protagonist, Todd, sees the only survivor, the first girl he ever saw.
Chaos Walking is definitely worth a watch, even though it did not impress at the box office.
The film stars Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, and others.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
One of the best movies like Divergent, which also revolves around the unresolved fate of conflicted humanity, is Alita: Battle Angel.
The plot takes place in a distant future, three centuries after a major war that ravaged the world. What remains of humanity in this Sci-Fi movie is hiding in the so-called Iron City.
One of the city’s cyber doctors, Ido, happens to run into the remnants of Alita, a cyborg who, when awakened, has no memory of her past. She has a very human brain, and a massive role to play in the future of the entire human race.
This is enjoyable for fans of action movies, dystopian films, and, of course, anyone who enjoys a good Sci-Fi story.
The film stars Rosa Salazar, Keean Johnson, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, and others.
City of Ember (2008)
As the name suggests, the plot of the City of Ember revolves around an underground city called Ember. However, the way this film differs from other movies is that, in most of them, the lead characters are seeking a way into the movie. This time, they wish to find a way out.
Based on the novel of the same name, the film has two protagonists, a girl called Lina, and her friend, a young man known as Doon.
Both are residents of the post-apocalyptic city, in which humanity hid.
However, the city’s corruption and aging infrastructure make it a difficult place to live, so the whole story starts when the two protagonists decide that they want out. Luckily, the city’s builders seemingly left clues on how to escape.
The escape is, as usual, action-packed and exciting, and quite worth watching.
The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Harry Treadway, Lara McIvor, and others.
Mortal Engines (2018)
Another movie like Divergent, as well as like Hunger Games, or The Maze Runner, is Mortal Engines. What they all share is the fact that there was an apparent end of the world, at least, the world as we know it and a rather unique one that was left in its place.
Mortal Engines is set in a distant future, roughly 1000 years from now. In the film, the world suffered something called the Sixty Minute War, which left the entire planet reshaped.
With major cities forever changed, and placed on wheels, they are consuming one another to survive, as resources of any kind are now a rare and precious commodity.
London is now a predator, turning everything in its path to dust, as it navigates through the endless plains of the so-called “Great Hunting Ground.”
While the cities are locked in an endless battle royale, the protagonist, Hester, is a young assassin who is the only one who can stop the madness.
The film stars Robert Sheehan, Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang, Jihae, Colin Salmon, and others.
Ready Player One (2018)
Next on our long list of movies like Divergent, we have Ready Player One. Another Sci-Fi film, this one takes place primarily in virtual reality.
The plot revolves a virtual world called the OASIS, to which people withdraw to escape the horrors of the real world. However, when the creator of OASIS dies, there is no one in charge.
The creator did leave a clue on how to take control of the world and replace him, which involves solving several major challenges.
The film combines Sci-Fi, dystopia, action, adventure, and other similar elements, also featuring character development, and it serves as an apt example of what the future world could be like for the new generation if humanity doesn’t learn from its mistakes.
The film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Mark Rylance, Ben Mendelsohn, Win Morisaki, and others.
The Giver (2014)
The Giver was a popular young adult franchise when it emerged as a novel, only to later be put to the screens with moderate success. Still, it is one of the Sci-Fi movies like Divergent, so it deserves its place on the list.
It features a futuristic society that suffered from a calamity known as The Ruin. Following the event, everyone was injected with a chemical that wipes out emotions, and people are forced to use it daily. Since there is no sexual desire either, children are brought to the world artificially.
The government institutions (the council of elders, led by Chief Elder) have made the world dull and black-and-white for everyone except for one person, known as the Receiver of Memory, and his protege. They are the only ones who see the world in color. However, the protege, Jonas, decides that memory, truth, and color should be free for all to experience.
The film stars Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Taylor Swift, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes, and others.
The Circle (2017)
The Circle is set in a futuristic world where the main enemy is a social platform. The theme became popular with the change in pop culture’s imagining of oppressive social machinery, turning companies into big bad guys instead of the government.
Specifically, the one called The Circle, the giant free-for-all social networking firm. Like Divergent, the situation is not as it seems.
The plot revolves around a young woman called Mae, who gets an opportunity to work for the company, which is her dream job.
However, after she rises through the ranks and is presented with the company’s true intention, to record every piece of data about everyone and make it available to everyone else, she decides to fight back.
The company’s idea of full transparency would completely destroy personal privacy and leave everyone in the world exposed. Worse still, the world prepares to adopt this solution with open arms, not realizing the full consequences of what it is about to do.
The film stars Emma Watson, Karen Gillan, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, John Boyega, and others.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Continuing the theme of movies like Divergent, we have Jupiter Ascending. The film revolves around the fact that humans did not evolve naturally on Earth. Instead, a transhuman race created them, as well as other creatures, leaving them on different planets in order to use them for the creation of youth serum.
The situation gets out of hand when the matriarch of the most powerful dynasty dies, leaving a power vacuum, leaving her children to quarrel about who will inherit her.
Meanwhile, on Earth, a girl called Jupiter starts getting attacked for unknown reasons. Throughout the movie, the audience learns of her importance and connection to the royal dynasty, as well as her role in the grand scheme of things.
The Washington Post criticized the movie, stating that “This is The Room in space,” but I myself have certainly seen worse films, and while it has its downsides, I still found it interesting to watch.
The film stars Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Sean Bean, Bae Doona, and others.
Dune is an interesting film Divergent-like film that takes place in the future, where humanity has spread throughout the stars. Despite this, it still suffers from the same problems it saw at home, including oppressive regimes and those who fight against them.
The plot revolves around Paul, who was born with a heavy responsibility and duty of going to the most dangerous planet in the known universe.
This is the only way for him to secure the future of his family, and his entire people. However, he makes the emperor feel threatened by everything that Paul stands for. As such, the mighty ruler decides that Paul needs to disappear.
The film stars Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, and others.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Never Let Me Go is another movie similar to Divergent, but in a slightly different way. It imagines a world where medical breakthrough allows people to regularly live beyond 100 years. The film then follows three young adults, Tommy, Kathy, and Ruth, who are locked in a love triangle.
However, their perspective drastically changes when they learn that they were raised for a single purpose, to become organ donors, whose organs will allow others to live longer. In desperation, they start looking for a way to avoid this fate, with a rumor that real love could be their only ticket out of being butchered for “spare parts.”
The film stars Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Izzy Meikle-Small, Ella Purnell, and others.
The Host (2013)
The Host is an interesting film about a unique relationship between a young woman and an alien parasite. The parasite is a member of an alien species called Souls. They have inserted themselves into humans, enslaving the entire race, and taking control of the planet.
There are only a few small groups of Soul-free humans who live in hiding.
However, a young woman, Melanie Stryder, just happens to be infected with a Soul that is sympathetic to humanity’s struggle, and wishes to help the host.
Since this is a movie based on a book by Stephanie Meyer, it also contains a dose of teen angst, romance, and alike, but ultimately, it is an interesting film that deserves a chance.
The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Diane Kruger, and others.
The last on our list is Snowpiercer, a film where the entire plot takes place on a moving train. This is the train where the remnants of humanity now live, as the Earth became a ball of ice, due to climate change.
Doing what humans do best, the survivors split into groups that occupy different portions of the train, with the lower economic class of society getting to live in poverty in the tail end of the train.
The trouble starts when the leader of this section decides that he and his people should start a revolution and better their lives. The Guardian itself gave it a nod, saying that “Snowpiercer works brilliantly, the sum of extremely disparate parts that adds up to cinematic excellence.”
So, if you ever wanted to know what a train-based revolution might look like, this film is a perfect opportunity to find out.
The film stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Son Kang-Ho, and others.
As you can see, the list of films like Divergent is long, and there are plenty of excellent gems on it, like Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, or Snowpiercer, to name a few. However, most of them have a common theme.
They seek to point out that society is the one responsible for its own misfortune and that humans are forced to lead these terrible lives as a consequence of their own actions.
While this is hardly comforting, it is still thought-provoking, and it makes the movies on this list not only enjoyable, but also deeper than what they might offer on the surface.
Each of them is a great watch, and I strongly recommend them, and if they make you start asking questions about what we are doing as a society, so be it.