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Contributing to this article: Jane Howarth & Laura Suzanne Light
When I searched for more films like ‘Divergent’, I definitely came up with plenty of results. Actually, that was the problem! So many results all spinning off a different aspect of movie genres: teen movies, fantasy movies, along with some great 21st century action and adventure movies…
But what I took away from this film was the idea of a girl who’s got to figure things out very quickly to earn her place and take down the dark forces controlling the city.
Looking for other ‘Divergent’-like movies and outstanding examples of dystopian cinema? Read on!
By the way, if you haven’t read the book, do so now!
“Yeah. From here right to the front of the train. Everything in one stroke. We control the engine, we control the world. Without that, we have nothing. All past revolutions have failed because they couldn’t take the engine.”
If you thought that Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Elysium’ was a bleak enough dystopia, brace yourself now!
This movie is what George Orwell would write if he wanted to set ‘1984’ aboard the mad Blaine the Mono from Stephen King’s ‘The Waste Lands’. Grim and fatalistic, this picture packs a chilly, compelling punch.
The apocalypse has already happened, with the planet transformed into a frozen block of ice. The last dregs of mankind have sought refuge aboard an ever-moving train barrelling through the icy landscape. The central conflict deals, of course, with a major class struggle, with most of the refugees hunkering in the ghettoized tail section of the train.
The privileged few live in the front cars (I’m sure any similarities to the basic concept of the bus boycotts that started the civil rights movement are intentional), and the ragged masses congregating in the rear are sick of the oppression. A rebellion begins to foment.
“I’m alive… I live… to safeguard the continuity of this great society. To serve Libria.”
Set in a future, post-World War III society where emotions have been outlawed, ‘Equilibrium’ tells the story of John Preston (Christian Bale), a government agent who begins to have doubts about the policy he is enforcing.
On its surface, after a brief action-oriented beginning is basically a progression from a fairly complex sci-fi film (meaning simply that it takes a lot of explanation to get up to speed) to a thriller to a “gun fu”-styled actioner. The progression is carried out skilfully by Wimmer, with all of the genres somewhat present throughout the film.
Wimmer is so austerely slick here that this movie sometimes resembles a postmodernist automobile commercial. The transition from genre to genre is incredibly smooth, though.
“You have to know who you are, and what you are. It’s the only way to lead decent lives.”
Okay, so this is a bit of a wild card…
Based on a novel about people who give up their lives to serve others, this movie is also a story without villains. It’s like a merciless Greek drama, leading our characters to their inevitable end. ‘This brief tragedy of flesh’, as Emily Dickinson would have it.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a science fiction movie. It’s not. It’s a human drama with a science fiction premise. This is not like ‘Logan’s Run’ and it really does not go into the details of the science behind the plot. It’s a sad and melancholy story about the human condition. If you go into it knowing what to expect, it’s highly recommended.
“We could be taken at any moment. We only have this. Now.”
Like ‘Divergent’, ‘The Host’ puts a young heroine at the front of a battle to save her family and friends in a dystopian future. Aliens known as ‘Souls’ are attaching themselves to humans minds and taking over their consciousness.
Our guest contributor has already recommended the book by Stephenie Meyer, and while The Host has accumulated mixed reviews, I think the strong cast of Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Emily Browning and Diane Kruger among others, help to qualify this as a very watchable movie.
“There is no teacher but the enemy. Only he will tell you where you are weak, where he is strong.”
Like ‘Divergent’, ‘The Hunger Games’ (Gary Ross, 2012) and similar movies, ‘Ender’s Game’ is set in a dystopian future. Ender is selected for an elite military training programme where he struggles to fit in, getting into fights with other recruits in and out of the practice arena.
I found the training process very similar to the harsh realities that Dauntless recruits go through, and there’s even a Faction-style divide as they’re split into teams.
“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
Admittedly, I only caught it because of Emily Browning’s connection to Lemony Snicket’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ (Brad Silberling, 2004). This near-undefinable movie sees her star alongside fellow Australian actress Abbie Cornish for a journey through multi-layered fantasies.
The disturbing premise of ‘Sucker Punch’ is that ‘Babydoll’ has been sent to an asylum – thanks to a false accusation – to keep her from revealing a dangerous truth. As she plots her escape, ‘Babydoll’s mind wanders through increasingly fantastical settings where she can physically fight her battles.
So what if society as a whole was out to get you and the only way to survive was to fight?
There’s no need to imagine it, here are three films like ‘Divergent’ that may have you looking over your shoulder every few seconds.
“What I am about to tell you sounds crazy. But you have to listen to me. Your very lives depend on it. You see, this isn’t the first time.”
If you’ve picked up the book or manga of ‘All You Need Is Kill’ (Hiroshi Sakurazaka, 2004), you’ll know you can expect a tough environment for Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt’s army recruits.
A marketing guy is pressured to join a front-line squad in the fight against an alien invasion, and finds himself caught in a never-ending loop. Every time he dies, he starts the day over again, rejoining the fight with the help of allies who can’t remember their last meeting.
Sure, it’s got all the elements of a monster movie, but it goes to an entirely different place.
“There’s nothing special about you. You’re just an ordinary program.”
Youthful Jeff Bridges stars in a movie that has generated a cult following. A computer developer hacks his way into his own system, but finds himself trapped inside the code itself as a player in a deadly battle.
While ‘Tron’ dates from the earlier days of personal computing and gaming, ‘Tron: Legacy’ (Joseph Kosinski, 2010) picks up the story eighteen years later with Garrett Hedlund as the developer’s son.
“I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?”
The government (referred to as The Alliance or Parliament) sends an “Agent” with no rank or name to hunt down Simon (Sean Maher), Serenity’s resident Doctor and his sister, River (Summer Glau), who is the real target.
Why is River Tam, the 16-year-old sister of a brilliant alliance Doctor such a threat to the worlds of the alliance? What could this girl have that’s so important they’d ruthlessly kill anyone in their path?
From start to finish, there are no wasted moments. All your emotions will be engaged. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp in shock. What you won’t be is bored.
Don’t plan on being able to take a bathroom break or get more Coke and popcorn. You won’t want to miss a second of this one.
“There won’t be any help. According to Ashford, Umbrella know they can’t contain the infection. So at sunrise this morning, Raccoon City will be completely sanitized.”
The story takes places right after the first movie; the T-Virus has now escaped into Raccoon City and has infected many, slowly turning them into Zombies.
I’m a huge fan of the ‘Resident Evil’ series (even if it does scare the living daylights out of me); I’ve played and (pretty much) beaten them all, so I have at least some knowledge of the plot of the movie.
The Umbrella Corp are as ruthless as ever, and as usual, Alice (Milla Jovovich) has to fight her way out to stop them! Bang on, I’d say!
“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
OK, so I must admit I only went to see this because of the Wachowski sibling’s involvement. I went in expecting to hate this movie about a terrorist, but it was so much more.
While not an action picture, there’s plenty of action and at least one funny homage to ‘The Matrix’. It’s very inspiring – believe it or not – and it didn’t make me want to blow up buildings either. It just made me appreciate freedom even more.
Hugo Weaving is terrific and Natalie Portman leaves Princess Amadala far behind with her performance as Evey.
If you know some great films similar to ‘Divergent’, let us all know!
Add your recommendations to the comments.
**For a video playlist of the recommendations, please click here.