12 Movies Like The Hunger Games to Check Out

Katniss in the Hunger Games
Hunger Games

Beginning in 2012 and based on a series of young adult dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games was a movie franchise juggernaut from day one. Audiences, particularly younger members and fans of the book series, took strongly to the epic story of Katniss Everdeen and her struggle to help overturn the fascist authoritarian government of her world. The movies, however, beginning with Catching Fire in 2012, proved to be popular with people who hadn’t even heard of the books beforehand. A big-screen prequel based on another book by Collins is also currently on the way.

The story of brutally oppressed peoples rising up will always be a draw, but this series as a whole distinguishes itself from many other movies like The Hunger Games. These films feature striking fight sequences, an impressively memorable depiction of a dire future, and a cast of then-young potential superstars like Jennifer Lawrence and well-established veteran actors like Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland, and the kind of world-building a series like this can really benefit from.

Not surprisingly, given its success, when it comes to movies like The Hunger Games that you can check out, there are a lot of titles out there.

 

Movies Like The Hunger Games

12. Akira (1988)

Akira
Akira

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo

The kids go through a lot in the 1988 groundbreaking Anime classic Akira.

In the crumbling, visually arresting metropolis known as Neo-Tokyo, a young man named Kaneda loses his best friend Tetsuo to a bizarre government conspiracy, launched by the existence of psychic beings. Their friendship is arguably the heart and soul of this movie, in which the children of Neo-Tokyo endure the machinations of the misguidedness or simply dumb greed and sadism from the adults running civilization into the ground. There’s something of a generational conflict occurring throughout the film, with Kaneda in particular finding himself caught between two very distinct modes of reality.

However, Akira has a lot of different things going on, beyond the outward conflicts we experience over the revolutionary film’s running time. Akira takes us through a world that is going to change, whether it wants to or not. Much The Hunger Games, the old guard, regardless of the full and final consequences, is coming apart at the seams.

 

11. The Divergent Series (2014-2016)

Four and Tris Divergents
Divergent

Directors: Neil Burger and Robert Schwentke

While quite possibly the lowest-rated entries on this list of movies like The Hunger Games, the Divergent films have been compared unfavorably to other movies based on YA dystopia novels. Perhaps that’s fair, but fans of The Hunger Games who still haven’t given this series a chance may want to reconsider their stance.

Why? While this trilogy of films set in a world in which individuals are divided up into groups based on specific human qualities has some rough spots in its world-building and cinematic momentum, they can still be enjoyable. The series benefits from an interesting core idea of what happens to someone who differs from a frightening societal norm, as well as a strong cast. They generate personality and even warmth in a movie series that sometimes doesn’t have a lot to stand out.

To put it another way, if you’re particularly fond of The Hunger Games for its empathetic characters, Divergent, particularly Shailene Woodley as Tris Prior, might be just right for you. Even if you probably shouldn’t expect a final film anytime soon.

 

10. Ender’s Game (2013)

Ender's Game
Ender’s Game

Director: Gavin Hood

Another literary adaptation in which every adult character seemingly can’t wait to endanger children, Ender’s Game had been in the works for quite some time. It perhaps took the success of stuff like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games for the 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card to finally see the light of an actual release. Unfortunately, the film received middling reviews, and would go on to be considered one of the more notable box office flops of the year.

Ender’s Game is perhaps a little overlong and sometimes stiffly acted by a cast that includes Viola Davis, Harrison Ford, and Asa Butterfield as the prodigy child chosen to save the earth from a future alien invasion.

At the same time, over the course of nearly two hours, Ender’s Game also features engaging character relationships, impressive special effects, and a unique spin on the larger subject of children being forced to settle conflicts established by their elders.

 

9. The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)

Harry Potter
Harry Potter

Directors: Christopher Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates

It seems more likely than not that if you’ve seen The Hunger Games films, you’ve probably also seen the Harry Potter movie series, as well. While these two franchises are fairly different from one another, it’s hard to argue that they don’t also share some commonalities. At the very least, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, released in 2001 to immediate and massive success, could be seen as paving the way for other big budget YA book-to-screen adaptations.

Kids once again take up the cause of a long war against a relentless, ever-present force of willful destruction and joyful chaos. Obviously, the Harry Potter series tends to keep most of its characters, set largely at a school that teaches magic to inclined children, in cheerier circumstances than that of The Hunger Games. Yet both stories certainly appeal to the idea of a hero whose destiny is largely forced upon them, and what happens to them when said destiny sweeps them off their feet and into the infinite.

If you still haven’t watched these, that’s something to keep in mind.

 

8. Lord of the Flies (1990)

Lord of the Flies (1990)
Lord of the Flies (1990)

Director: Harry Hook

To date, the 1990 film version of Lord of the Flies is the darkest depiction of William Golding’s novel put to screen. A simple story of a group of young boys becoming stranded on an unknown island after their plane crashes, Lord of the Flies is a story about what happens when civilization breaks down. There are a number of themes running through the book, and those themes are brought to life in this movie with brutal efficiency in not just the performances, but in the heightened, almost obscene madness that threatens to devour the children.

When things get really ugly in this story of savagery and the fight to retain some semblance of humanity, Lord of the Flies is haunting in how it thrusts its young protagonists into the mercy of larger, older, and generally disinterested beings.

This movie can also be a winner for anyone who saw any of the Hunger Games movies and thought how great it would be if there were more movies about kids fighting to the death in a jungle of some kind.

 

7. The Maze Runner Series (2014-2018)

The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner

Directors: Wes Ball

The Maze Runner series, consisting of three films all directed by Wes Ball, another franchise based on another YA dystopian property, might be the closest to The Hunger Games of anything we might be able to think of. That isn’t to say it’s a ripoff. These are simply genre examples. Everyone is going to hit similar beats when your genre parameters are exactly the same. The Maze Runner shares a lot with The Hunger Games, particularly in its story of a society of young people trying to take control of their destiny.

The Maze Runner films, starting with the titular film in 2014, is a much more direct approach to the formula The Hunger Games also draws from. Despite these similarities, this entire series really just boils down to kids fighting it out, forming alliances, and trying to survive a deadly, elaborate maze. The Maze Runner emphasizes action and its straightforward premise across three movies. That could prove to be exactly the kind of movie you’ve been looking for.

 

6. Mortal Engines (2018)

The Mortal Engines
Mortal Engines

Director: Christian Rivers

Do you watch The Hunger Games and think “Why isn’t there more steampunk stuff going on right now”?

Despite poor reviews and bombing at the box office, Mortal Engines has a lot to recommend. Most of all to fans of the themes and other elements covered in these post-apocalyptic stories of people finding their purpose in the form of opportunity to change their world. Hopefully, as far as Tom, Hester, and Anna Fang are concerned in this 2018 film, for the better.

Mortal Engines doesn’t have the best writing or character development on the planet, but again, that shouldn’t really matter. This is a story about giant cities rolling around on wheels like gluttonous ghostly predators. The steampunk visuals, themes of heroic youngsters banding together to defeat something older and more established (in this case a very enjoyable Hugo Weaving), and action sequences are more than enough.

 

5. The Percy Jackson Series (2010-2013)

percy jackson
Percy Jackson

Directors: Chris Columbus and Thor Freudenthal

While the book series known as Percy Jackson & The Olympians may share more in common with Harry Potter than The Hunger Games, there’s still a lot of potential overlap of interest to be found here.

Starting with The Lightning Thief in 2010, the saga of Percy Jackson revolves around his efforts to find himself while meeting his true destiny as the son of the god Poseidon. It’s an entertaining pair of movies, with Sea of Monsters coming out in 2013, and a Disney+ reboot on the way. This is a series that knows exactly who it wants to appeal to.

While not as bleak as the circumstances surrounding Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, the Percy Jackson series is still about someone finding their purpose within themselves and through their relationships to the friends, family, and enemies around them. The stakes are high for Percy, to be sure, as he understands his power and its place in the larger world.

 

4. Robocop (1987)

Robocop
Robocop

Director: Paul Verhoeven

We’re taking things into considerably darker territory with the darker and more adult 1987 classic Robocop. Another story in which a crumbling society is seemingly gasping out its final breath as it’s choked out by a ruthless controlling interest. In this case, it’s a massive corporation who wins a contract to privatize the police force for the terminal city of Detroit. Their efforts destroy the life of officer Alex Murphy as he knows it, with Murphy’s body being used to create a powerful new approach to law enforcement.

Robocop is also another story of someone violently rejecting the path their government has set them upon. There isn’t much difference between Robocop’s Omni Consumer Products (OCP) and The Capitol. It’s also superbly acted, particularly by Kurtwood Smith as the brutal Clarence, and Peter Weller’s haunting performance as Alex Murphy/Robocop. The film is one of the best action movies of the 1980s. In the present, it’s still flawless social commentary and intense entertainment.

In fact, as far as social commentary is concerned, Robocop might be the most prescient on this list.

 

3. The Running Man (1987)

The Running Man
The Running Man

Director: Paul Michael Glaser

The Running Man is more of a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger than anything else. Even so, the film still packs some incredible action set pieces and frantic supporting performances into its setting of a futuristic hellscape in which criminals fight professional killers to the death on live TV. You also can’t forget the sublime scumbag performance of actual game show host Richard Dawson as the host of the Running Man TV show.

We don’t spend too much time with this world, with the movie naturally spending most of its time on Arnold and his friends (the late Yaphet Kotto is particularly nice to see) trying to survive the game show and overthrow the greedy pigs in charge. When that’s where the movie is spending its time, it stands as one of the best action movies of its decade.

So loosely based on a novel by Stephen King (under the name Richard Bachman) that it’s almost factually incorrect to even call this an adaptation, The Running Man is relentless, clever, and fun.

 

2. Stormbreaker (2006)

Stormbreaker
Stormbreaker

Director: Geoffrey Sax

Stormbreaker may appeal to those who love The Hunger Games for its portrayal of a teenager who’s forced to contend with an entirely different world from the one they had known. Luckily for Alex Rider, the protagonist of this underrated 2006 film, he at least gets to have his adventures in the world of espionage and intrigue in modern England.

While Stormbreaker gets a little too heavy-handed at times, particularly since this is just a story about a teen (Alex Pettyfer) who is apparently so damn cool, MI6 comes a-calling, it does take full advantage of a big budget and a strong cast. Stunts, fight choreography, and special effects are all nicely done here.

Stormbreaker is a lighter degree of fantasy fulfillment for those who wish to see themselves as a possible hero in the story they’re watching. If you find yourself eager for more of this specific story, you’ll be pleased to learn there’s two seasons worth of a series available on Amazon, as well.

 

1. V for Vendetta (2005)

V For Vendetta
V For Vendetta

Director: James McTeigue

It’s okay if Alan Moore, the co-creator of the 1988 graphic novel upon which the 2005 film V for Vendetta is drawn from, is dead-set against even the existence of this movie.

Fans of movies in which revolutionary heroes lay waste to fascists and their government have been championing this film for almost 20 years. It’s an expressively stirring action film at times, with a cast of standout performances from the likes of Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, and John Hurt, and it’s not hard to see why some consider it to be one of the best comic book movie adaptations ever made.

V for Vendetta is a story of fostering hope by refusing death by stasis under the boot of an oppressive force. It isn’t hard to see the similarities between V and other movies worth watching if you love The Hunger Games. However, the unique stylization and noir-infused grandeur of everything here might make this movie more attractive to those who want something perhaps a little deeper and emotionally charged than similar titles.

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