5 Best Dystopia Movies
Just like fashion, the continuously shifting norms that are Hollywood have been changing. Years ago, werewolves and vampires were all the rage. The Twilight Saga is mostly to thank (or perhaps blame) for that fad. However, with the success of both the book series and the first movie adaptation, The Hunger Games shifted us from the supernatural to the super…depressing and desolate dystopias.
Besides The Hunger Games, recent movies like The Host and Ender’s Game (I can’t believe I just used those two movies in the same sentence) have dystopia settings. The list doesn’t end there, though, and looking ahead, we can expect more of these movies to pop up, such as Divergent, which got me thinking: what are the best dystopias to date?
Below you can find five of what I consider the best dystopia movies. For the sake of clarification, I am defining “dystopia” as a fictional world where everything is uncharacteristically unpleasant or bad.
Check out the full list below:
Looper is my “upset” pick because it’s a relatively new movie (it released just over a year ago) and because it’s arguably not a dystopia. I’d obviously argue it is (why else would it be on my list?) simply because of the power struggle. The plot focuses on going back in time to stop a sadistic ruler before he can get power. Rian Johnson (Brick) cleverly masked this behind the concept of stopping your past self, but he also deserves credit for not going over-the-top when presenting both the past and present worlds. Both were very unpleasant, too.
V For Vendetta encompasses political unrest (and dystopia) more than any other film I can think of. While it may lack the European identity that some people flock to for the graphic novel, I think it is much more universal, meaning the setting isn’t as essential. Instead, the morals, ideas, or whatever buzz word you want to use, are really what pushes this film above the competition. There’s just something unique about the film’s climate and tone that I haven’t quite seen from similarly-themed films.
It’s sometimes easy to forget The Matrix’s originality. I’m not saying the movie (and especially the franchise) is perfect, but the first movie deserves a lot of recognition. Rather than being pigeonholed by its genre, it instead created ideas of alternate realities, fate, and so much more. In order for all this to happen, the Wachowski siblings had to create not one, but two, universes (to a much larger extent than Looper). Both of them, in some way, portray this idea of dystopia.
Nothing quite screams dystopia like the world Alex DeLarge and his band of “droogs” create with their crazy antics in A Clockwork Orange. The movie is very divisive, but if we’re talking about a world where everything is unpleasant or bad, I can’t think of a group of individuals I’d less like to meet than the hooligans from A Clockwork Orange. Not only is this one of the best movies (in my opinion), but it’s a lot less “showy” dystopia. In other words, it doesn’t resort to showing a desolate landscape or a broken down government. The focus is on the human nature aspect.
To me, there is no movie that creates a setting quite like Children of Men. Alfonso Cuarón (who is getting a lot of praise for this year’s Gravity) definitely knows how to create the perfect environment. I lauded other films for not falling into the trap of focusing on the setting too much, but Children of Men is the exception to the rule. As for plot, the story follows a man and his quest to protect a woman that becomes pregnant after an 18-year pregnancy drought. Rather than focusing on a whole lot of exposition and unnecessary explanation, Children of Men instead thrusts us right into this aforementioned environment and allows us to fight the same battles as Theo (played by Clive Owen). It also features one of the best scenes I have ever seen and went a long way to help solidify Cuarón as an upper-echelon director.
As for honorable mentions, I did leave The Hunger Games off the list, but also wanted to mention 28 Days Later, Minority Report, The Island, Twelve Monkeys, I Am Legend, and I, Robot. Are there any others I missed? Let me know below!
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