With "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" out in theaters today, dystopian franchises are riding an all-time high. By now, you know them all too well. New franchises like "Divergent" and classics like "The Matrix," where sometime in the distant future or in another reality, humanity is at a tipping point because of something that humanity did to itself.
In the "Matrix," it was artificial intelligence and in "Hunger Games," it was wars between Districts and the Capitol. Genetic engineering the perfect human also factors in to some other franchises about saving this alternate world. But there are more similarities between these blockbusters, essential ingredients to a good post-apocalyptic thriller!
Here is the recipe you need for success:
1 - The Villain Thinks He Is Actually Doing Good
Cue Kate Winslet's Jeanie -- the leader of Erudite -- the faction that wants to hunt down and kill all the Divergent people. She doesn't think what she's doing is bad for society, just that all the people should neatly fit into their chosen faction. As they say, "Faction over blood."
Also, it's not like Patricia Clarkson's Ava Paige thinks locking a bunch of kids in a maze is all that wrong either. She believes placing the chosen in the "Maze Runner" is vital to healing the world. Sounds kind of similar, huh? Then there's "The Matrix's" Agent Smith and "The Hunger Games'" President Snow, who have their own reasons they are actually healing humanity, not tearing it apart.
2 - Romance is Key
Yes, yes romance is key for most films, but especially key when the world is on the line. Whether it's the love triangle between Katniss, Gale and Peeta, or the star-crossed relationship between Neo and Trinity in "The Matrix," the love aspect is crucial to the hero becoming what he or she is meant to be. It takes true love to be truly brave ... or something like that.
3 - Rules Need to Be Broken
This is a biggie. In the "Maze Runner," we find out even though all along, the children of the Glade thought they needed to follow the rules, what "WICKED" (the organization running this crazy experiment) really wanted was to wait for the brave to boldly think outside the box and complete the maze, no matter what.
Same goes for "Divergent." In "Insurgent," we come to find that it was important for Tris, played by Shailene Woodley, to live and lead her people out of the city. The idea was to find that perfect "Divergent" that could return humanity to all its glory.
4 - Needs to Be Told Over 3, Maybe 4 Movies
To be fair, the books are also trilogies and more, but the movies, as of late, have really been stretching things out. "The Hunger Games" will be four moves, with Part 1 and Part 2 of "Mockingjay" and the same goes for "Divergent" with "Allegiant" out next year, followed by "Ascendant" in 2017. Basically, you can't tell a good dystopian, love tragedy in 2 hours or less.
5 - Expect a Key Death
We will only rehash "The Matrix" for those who have not read the "The Maze Runner," "The Hunger Games" or "Divergent" series. If you recall, all the way back to 2003's "Matrix Revolutions," Neo had to watch Trinity fall before he went ahead and saved Zion. It really takes a good lost love to canonize a good trilogy. These things don't always end happily ever after.
A gentle spoiler alert.
Not everyone is safe moving forward in the other three franchises mentioned. With that said, enjoy!