Top 10 Dystopian Movies For Young Adults (Ranked By IMDb)


Dystopian scenarios in the movies have been popular in recent years, responding to the demands of a young adult audience.
The past decade brings a large number of science fiction and drama stories set in a threatening future, where humanity is constantly at risk. Many of the plots are based on books for young adults, which have been well received by readers and are, in some ways, an excellent bet for film production companies.

Oppressive regimes, natural disasters, evil aliens and worlds with negative technological advances, where fictional societies have been alienated, are some of the futuristic scenarios that cause terror in these films and that serve to contemplate the more pessimistic possibilities of the future of humanity.

10 The Fifth Wave (IMDb 5,2)

Based on a book written by Rick Yancey, The Fifth Wave begins with the gradual destruction of the world by aliens, in order to take control of Earth. The story’s name comes from the waves of destruction that have hit the planet, the first one ending with electric power, the next one a big earthquake, then a deadly plague, and finally the control of some humans that gives way to the fifth and dominance of the planet.
The film emphasizes the loss of trust among humans, since they do not know which person has control of their mind. In this environment, a 16-year-old girl, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, must find her brother while fighting for survival.
9 The Host (IMDb 5,9)

The Host is another movie where evil aliens have taken control of the planet, replacing the human mind with alien parasites. The story based on a book by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), tells how Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) maintains an internal fight, to keep control of her body and take it away from Wanderer, who is the invader of another planet.
The strong emotions, memories and sensations of the host, make it difficult for the new occupant of the body to have complete control. As a result, she creates feelings and struggles to get rid of them and do her job.  The conflict between the two reaches a breaking point, when they have to ally themselves to achieve common goals, all framed in a love story quite in the style of Meyer.

8 City of Ember (IMDb 6.5)

After a nuclear war, people live in an underground city and have been missing from the Earth’s surface for more than two hundred years. This film produced by Tom Hanks is based on a novel by Jeanne DuPrau, where people face the danger of losing the life as they know it, when the electricity generator on which they depend begins to fail.

The film has the participation of actors who stand out for their excellent career as Tim Robbins, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray and Harry Treadaway. The performances, along with a very good tone of the story, allow viewers to get caught up in the plot, which follows two young adults trying to save the city from darkness.
7 The Giver (IMDb 6,5)

Contrary to the chaotic situation of many dystopias, this film focuses on a seemingly perfect world where diversity is absent and every aspect of society is controlled.  As the plot develops, it is possible to see fractures and elements that take reality away from a utopia.
The story, based on a book by Lois Lowry, suggests the need for independent thought, free will and knowledge, even if these lead to the discovery of situations of sadness or pain. The rupture begins to show when the protagonist, chosen to preserve the memories of a previous society, knows the true essence of the human being and debates between the imposed social rules and true freedom.

6 Ender’s Game (IMDb 6,6)

A group of young people are prepared in space, in a military school, to fight an alien invasion. The film is based on Orson Scott Card’s book, that almost didn’t make it to theaters, due to the author’s refusal to make the movie adaptation. The moment chosen for the execution was the best, because of the quality of special effects that captivated science fiction fans.
Survival is not guaranteed for humans in this story set in 2070, which is why young recruits must undergo grueling training, both physical and psychological. During the practices, Andrew Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) stands out among the rest of the students, and will be the one in charge of his squad to defeat the aliens.
5 Divergent (IMDb 6.7)

Humanity is divided into five factions, and by the age of 16, each person must choose where to belong, separating themselves from their family. To join each faction, young people must complete a series of tests, and if they fail, they face exclusion from society.

Divergent is part of the trilogy written by Veronica Roth, which has a good number of fans, who enjoy science fiction stories for young people. In the first part of the plot it shows a devastated Chicago, but it won’t be until the next productions that it begins to glimpse the reasons why society reached that point, explaining why they are so afraid of the outside world or the reasons for the factions.

4 Maze Runner (IMDb 6,8)

The film, based on a James Dashner saga, is a twisted game that brings together a group of teenagers who must overcome obstacles and gather the few clues from their past in order to remember their purpose in that place and figure out how to get out of the maze alive.
The spectators remain captivated by the curiosity generated by all the questions about the labyrinth and what will happen to these children when they manage to leave it.  The trilogy ended in 2018, completing for the fans another series of science fiction movies for young adults, developed in dystopian scenario.
3 Never Let Me Go (IMDb 7,1)

As a clear questioning of the limits of science, Never Let Me Go tells the story of a group of young clones, who know of their creation: exclusively to give organs to humans, who need those organs because they are seriously ill.
The British drama starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley is based on the best-selling book by Kazuo Ishiguro. The story takes place in a boarding school, where young clones are educated about culture and art, in order to increase the message about health in society. Throughout their lives, the children know the purpose behind their creation and understand that their existence will be short, after gradually giving up their organs. This makes them question the whole process, because of the injustice that they live with.

2 The Hunger Games (IMDb 7.2)

This is the most popular film for young adults in this genre at the moment. The production based on Suzanne Collins’ best-seller, has a powerful message that is praised by critics, where an authoritarian government keeps the people in poverty after a series of wars destroyed the country.

Each year, two young people from each district are chosen to participate in a game, where only one person comes out alive. The grotesque thirst of the influential population of the capitol, can be seen in their elaborate costumes and in the way they follow the challenge on television, in a maddening show where the participants become media stars before their deaths.
1 Alita: Battle Angel (IMDb 7,3)

Alita, a cyborg who wakes up abandoned and without memory in a world in decomposition, is adopted by a doctor who will protect her like a daughter. The ambitious film directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron is based on a cyberpunk manga series by Yukito Kishiro.
The film had been waiting for years, due to problems with the filmmakers’ agenda, but time helped it achieve an excellent visual work. Here, subtle technological effects were achieved by the special effects company Weta Digital, founded by Peter Jackson. Spokespeople for the company said that the character of Alita is the most ambitious they have made until now.
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About The AuthorEdgary Rodríguez R. is a writer, video producer and journalist. She writes in different publications about films, TV, politics, human rights, travel, art, environment, social justice, among others. Can also be found in Siena Post.
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