Over the last few years, young adult dystopian fiction has seen a spike in popularity with a number of adaptations making it to the big screen. Trilogies like The Hunger Games and Divergent were not only best-sellers, but also came out on top dominating the box office upon their on screen debuts. This rise in popularity could be attributed to audiences being able to relate so closely to the characters, or it could purely be the entertainment factor of watching a dystopian world played out. Either way, these stories are both exciting and mind bending, and leave audiences constantly wanting more. In anticipation of the fourth and final installment in the Hunger Games franchise premiering this month, let’s take a look back at the top five adaptations of the genre.
Ender's Game takes place in the distant future where young boy named Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is said to be a brilliant strategist and fighter. During the course of the film, his incredible skills are mastered and he is successful in destroying the planet Earth is at war with. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Ender is sparring with a friend in a zero gravity room above Earth, the cinematics of the scene are truly breathtaking. Even though the author played a role in the adaptation, fans of the book agree the movie lacked in terms of plot and character development. But what the film compensates for the lack of substance by delivering stunning visuals and a condensed version of the tale without compromising the lead character or core message.
Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off continuing to follow Erudite leader Jeanine on her mission to dominate the factions and an end to all divergents. Tris and Four are on the run from Jeanine and her army of evil, and appear to be the only ones capable of saving the world and revealing the truth about the Erudites. While both movies in the series, currently on demand through DTV & Hulu, have streamlined the story on screen, Insurgent took far more liberties and altered the driving force behind the story. In the movie, there is a mysterious box that can only be opened by a divergent, Tris, after passing sims of all five factions. However, this box does not even exist in the book, and Jeanine’s hunting Tris in order to make a serum. These alterations in the storyline left fans wondering what this meant for the Allegiant adaptation and where we will see Tris and Four next.
The Giver is a story of a young boy named Jonas who lives in what appears to be a utopian society. Jonas and the rest of his neighbors live in a peaceful area that is protected by a council of elders. Far more intelligent than other children his age, he is selected to be The Receiver of Memories upon graduation. While in his new position, he quickly discovers that people are basically being brainwashed, arranged in marriage, and even euthanized. The movie does a good job of taking the major points of the book and putting them on screen. Other than there being a few film differences that are actually celebrated by fans of the story, the movie does a great job of telling a story full of ethics and complex issues without being too heavy-handed.
The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner follows Thomas as he wakes up in transport to an unknown location. After a short time, Thomas discovers that he is trapped in a large maze. His goal is to escape and save the others that are stuck in the same predicament. The film adaption of The Maze Runner did its best to stick to the main plot of the book, but there are still a few changes that took place. Thomas begins to remember things from his life very quickly in the film, Alby and Thomas are friendly with each other, and Teresa doesn’t spend half of the time in a coma. The book version offers much more intimate and in-depth character building throughout, but that’s almost to be expected. And in comparison to reactions to the changes made from the source material in The Scorch Trials adaptation, fans were relatively pleased with these.
Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 1
The Hunger Games series is arguably the greatest dystopian film franchise of all time. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 takes place after Katniss is rescued from Quarter Quell. She wakes up underneath District 13, and she learns that her home, District 12, has been destroyed. As Katniss is saddened by the news of her home's destruction, she also learns of a rebellion taking place in order to dethrone President Snow with herself as the leading symbol. Burrowing deep into the concept of a revolution, this film is a standout among the series with few notable differences from the book. Katniss visits the destroyed city of District 12 much later in the film, and Peeta’s physical description is altered, but we get a better emotional understanding of Katniss and a clear showing of the power of propaganda cleverly put forth by Snow.
It’s never easy adapting a book to the big screen and full capturing every detail to fans expectation. While these strayed from their sources, there no denying the high levels of entertainment put forth by each. With this genre more popular than ever, it’s only a matter of time before another dystopian adaptation is in the works.
Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.