Movie Review: The Darkest Minds, Here's to Another Teen Dystopian Film
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Mandy Moore, Patrick Gibson
First, we had wizards and witches. Then, we had vampires. Right afterwards, in came the dystopian trend. Now, "The Darkest Minds" is a bit late into the teen dystopian game, so it already has quite a number of predecessors to contend with- many of which are highly popular with this particular audience.
With the likes of teen favourites "The Hunger Games" and "The Maze Runner" around, will "The Darkest Minds" be able to match up?
What is it about?
A disease called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN) has wiped out 90% of children under the age of 18 in US. Those who survive are left with superpowers, leaving the government in fear of what they are capable of. In order to keep these superpowered children under control, these children are captured and kept in internment camps sanctioned by the President. Those who are lucky are placed in a freer version that is run by the Slip Kid, or a camp that is run by the Children's League, an organisation that is against both camps.
It is at the internment camp under the President that the children are categorised by colour according to their powers. Greens are the least dangerous and have enhanced intelligence and memories; Blues are mildly dangerous and possess telekinesis; Golds are somewhat dangerous and can control electricity; Reds are highly dangerous and are the Fire Benders of the "The Darkest Minds" world; and Oranges, the rarest, and considered the most dangerous, have the ability to enter and control minds.
Unlike the rest of the colours, Oranges are killed on sight.
Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg) is one such Orange who unknowingly wipes out her parents' memories of her upon gaining her powers. Terrified and confused, she is shipped off to the President's internment camp before she could make sense of what had happened. There, she manages to conceal the fact that she is an Orange, and passes herself as a Green. This is not to last, however, as her true identity is revealed six years later...
Is it worth a watch?
Superpowers, a post-apocalyptic setting, teen front-liners, evil adults/government and a dystopian theme result in a film that feels like an old friend that struggles to find its own voice.
The reason for this being that while it offers a concoction that should help it do well with its target audience, it doesn't exactly offer anything new that would help it stand out from the crowd. No surprises, no suspense, not even a strong sense of build-up. All of this, and it has mighty predecessors to contend with too that cripple it. Even the ending would ring familiar to all those who are fans of the dystopian genre; it features Ruby, after resisting for so long, finally stepping up to her role of leading a revolution. As an Orange, it was her natural calling from the start of it all.
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That said, although "The Darkest Minds" does not offer anything particularly new, it does possess elements that could have been utilised in its favour. For instance, the plight of parents who have lost their children (be it to the disease or to the government), could have been highlighted and used as an emotional device. A more thorough depiction of the effect of the removal of children from society could've been done.
Storytelling issues that involve tying certain plotlines more neatly could've been looked into as well. A more streamlined story, to avoid the somewhat foggy one that is the first installment of "The Darkest Minds".
Of course, I admittedly have not read the books, and therefore can only offer my view in terms of the film itself. What do you think?
"The Darkest Minds" is hitting cinemas on 16th August 2018!
Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini