Just another teen movie? The rise of YA dystopia!

Dystopia [dis-toh-pee-uh]

noun

1.

a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.
AKA: Set in a future…

A style of film that has seen a meteoric rise over the last decade – loved by the young generation, while many adults see them as silly teen movies, dystopia is something that has well and truly grabbed the next generations imagination. What is it that has made these films break all sorts of records? will they ever be respected in the same way as more mature dramas? And perhaps more importantly, is this obsession with a dire future something we should be worried about?

I’ve said YA dystopia instead of dystopia in general to eliminate some of the more respected and acknowledged films such as Interstellar, Planet of the Apes and A Clockwork Orange. These are widely accepted films that appeal to a vast audience. What I’m interested in is the seemingly unending torrent of film series that are adapted from YA books and are lasting for many years, earning millions and developing almost cult followings.

Some will say it started with Harry Potter in 2001, but I think that’s fantasy and not dystopia. For me it all started in 2008, and while The Twilight Saga didn’t go down too well with critics, it broke records in terms of money earned and still has a cult following to this day. In 2012, while Twilight was drawing to a close, The Hunger Games was introduced to the world and was starting to leave an even bigger print on the world of cinema! Now in 2015, there seems to be no limit on the financial might of these films.

This is a genre that shows no signs of slowing down either, with Divergent running until 2017, and The Maze Runner also running till at least that year. These will not be alone on the quest for world domination, as highly rated book series Legend (a series many expect will eclipse The Hunger Games) is set to start next year alongside Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, starring highly rated young actress Chloe Grace Moretz.

The appeal of these films is undeniable, so the next question is, will any of these be able to become widely respected pieces of cinema?

If you take out the incredible Hunger Games: Catching Fire, then I couldn’t find a single YA film that got 7 stars on IMDB, and the Twilight films were in the 4’s and 5’s! One of my favourite film critics while reviewing The Maze Runner could only see it as some sort of spin-off to Divergent, and that film has come under criticism for its apparent likeness to The Hunger Games! Dystopian films all follow a similar pattern, and there’s a risk that they are all looking the same to the majority of people. If nothing original is done then the whole genre could just be seen as Hunger Games spin-offs.

I cannot honestly see a time where a young adult dystopian film is in and around awards such as the Oscars and the Globes. The films may be able to compete with the rest in terms of acting and directing and the rest of it, but it’s not something that appeals to the older men and women that hand out the awards. It’s this realisation that has spawned alternative awards such as the MTV Movie awards that cater for a different type of audience.

YA Dystopia

Is this what the next generation expect from the future?

A bleak future for society
A really interesting question popped into my head the other day. I was watching one of my favourite movie critics review the Disney film Tomorrowland and he talked about how the overriding theme throughout was this idea of creating an optimistic future – a ‘utopia’ if you will – and the idea that right now the human race actually wants bad things to happen. That rings true in more ways than we can imagine.

The definition of dystopia is a future in which the world is full of suffering, an almost perfectly terrible world. This is the idea that’s grabbing the attention of the next generation, the generation living through such things as the global economic crisis that has apparently turned us into some sort of ‘lost generation’. Does the recent rise of dystopia show the world what the next generation think about the future – that it will be this bleak, miserable world? Surely this is something people should be looking into?

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