The Darkest Minds Movie Review
“The Darkest Minds” is a movie adaptation of a book series, and it follows a typical Young Adult dystopian narrative. The world has gone very, very bad – and the main character(s) will be the only one(s) who can set things right. Or maybe just survive. The adults of the world either caused the dystopian disaster, or did nothing to stop it. Now the adults/government/group/agency are actively working against the main character and his or her friends. The adults will use the power of force and weapons if need be to stop the valiant heroes as they defeat the people they rise against. If this is done right, or it has some twist or a clever hook, then it is something interesting and fun to watch. Otherwise…
Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg) is one of a very small fraction of the world’s children to survive a horrible disease. Even the President’s son – Clancy Gray (Patrick Gibson) – has been affected, but he survived. He was supposedly cured of the wretched sickness. Other youngsters who have survived now possess unusual side effects. A large majority is affected with increased intelligence, and then another group has telekineses powers. And even above them are smaller groups with the most special abilities, but they are considered dangerous. Like a Homeland Security pyramid chart of risk, the top are labeled Orange and Red. Ruby is an Orange, but she is hiding as a Green (the lowest level).
Ruby has been removed from her parents and is confined at a military work camp for six years. Her powers have remained under wraps, but the job might be up. A doctor named Cate (Mandy Moore) seems to help Ruby escape. Ruby has super mind control, and does a sort of Jedi Mind Trick on the officer in charge. Cate wants Ruby to be part of the Children’s Alliance – a paramilitary type group that will spread the truth about the harsh work camps. But Ruby wants to get away, and then she finds a small group of other ‘special’ kids. They are led by Liam (Harris Dickinson) who also has powers. He travels with Chubs (Skylan Brooks), who is a super-smarty and also with Zu (Miya Cech) who can control electricity. Ruby joins with this little band of renegades, and she finds they are always chased by bounty hunters and threatened by government agents. But they hear about a special camp for the young gifted survivors. It is code-named EDO, and it is somewhere out in the woods. The group finally gets to the EDO camp, and they find it is run by Clancy Gray, the President’s son who was thought to have the disease but was cured. But he actually has the Orange level powers, just like Ruby.
This movie has some attractive leads, and the story moved quickly from one crisis and confrontation to another. But it lacks the deep emotional punch that a better movie would have. The Bad Guys are over-the-top insane, and the kids have all the ‘Stranger Things’ powers to get the upper hand. So there is no big threat. A couple of forced relationships are too pat, and the there is the wanna-be love interest stand-off between Liam and Clancy. At the end, there is Jedi Mind Trick that used in a very heartbreaking fashion. But even that (erasing memories) has been seen before, in the Harry Potter movies.
Amandla Stenberg does a very good job in this role. Harris Dickinson and Patrick Gibson are just OK. The rest of cast goes between just all right and over-the-top bad. The pacing keeps the story moving, but there is the forced love-triangle aspect that is a clunky add-on. The look and feel of the childless future looks a little eerie. Funny how in a dystopian future, everyone has perfect hair and shiny clean teeth!
This is lukewarm rehash of ideas served up with a very attractive cast, but without any fresh ideas from those Darkest Minds.
The Darkest Minds Review
The Darkest Minds Summary
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Screenplay by: Chad Hodge
Based on: The Darkest Minds (by Alexandra Bracken)
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Harris Dickinson, Patrick Gibson, Skylan Brookse
Length: 105 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, and thematic elements
Genre: SCI-FI, Adventure