The Darkest Minds (2018)

The Darkest Minds
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Writer: Chad Hodge
Based on: Alexandra Bracken‘s novel
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Miya Cech, Mandy Moore, Patrick Gibson, Bradley Whitford, Gwendoline Christie, Wade Williams
Seen on: 16.8.2018

A disease killed 98% of all children. The remaining children are kept under lock and key by the adults around. Not because of fear for them, but of them. They have developed superpowers that are strictly classified into dangerous and harmless. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) is considered dangerous. Or she would be, if people knew her real designation. So far, she managed to keep it hidden. But that doesn’t make life in the internment camps any good. So Ruby escapes the first chance she gets – and manages to find other children who are free, too. They throw their lot together, but they will have to decide soon whether they want any more out of life.

The Darkest Minds is pretty standard young adult postapocalypse fare. It’s nice to watch, but isn’t particularly outstanding – with the exception of Stenberg and Dickinson who are above average.

The film poster showing Skylan Brooks, Amandla Stenberg, Miya Cech and Harris Dickinson in the film.

We have seen a lot of teenagers in postapocalyptic settings, with and without superpowers. We’ve definitely seen enough of it that there’s a certain saturation of the market and films in the genre have to deliver something new or something really good to stand out. The Darkest Minds fails on both counts.

If it wasn’t for Stenberg and Dickinson, I’d say it would have failed pretty much entirely. But somehow those two manage to transcend the clichés of their characters and give them more charm than they rightfully have any claim to. And even though the romance that blossoms between those two seems utterly calculated and executed “paint by numbers” style, they have chemistry. Which means that the ending – that I did not see coming in that way, actually carried emotional weight for me.


Speaking of the ending: it’s obviously geared towards a continuation of the series: there is no real ending. But I doubt that there will be a sequel and I have to say that I, for one, don’t really regret that. If I start to, I might check out the novel (and its sequels) the film is based on, but I’m not overly motivated to do so, I have to admit.

Overall it was a nice watch, but the film does lack the certain something that makes a film really special. It was fine, but not much more.

Mandy Moore and Amandla Stenberg in the film.

Summarizing: Okay.

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