Another Young Adult Dystopian Film Series
The Darkest Minds feels like a film released 10 years too late. After a slew of young adult dystopian fantasies on the big screen, The Darkest Minds is the latest to take a stab at this over-saturated genre. On its own, The Darkest Minds is a perfectly serviceable film but it all feels a little too similar to what’s come before and despite a few well worked twists, there just isn’t enough to help the film stand out next to others in this genre.
The premise takes the core concept of X-Men, throws in a totalitarian dictatorship and a whole bunch of tried and tested ideas from this genre to form the core construct of The Darkest Minds’ world and plot. Sometime in the future, 98% of children drop dead from a strange disease called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN for short). The ones who survive this fatal outbreak inexplicably gain special abilities ranging from flight to super strength. The adults frantically scramble for control by rounding up all the children and categorising them into different levels of threat – with orange and red being the most deadly and resulting in execution. After a brief introduction to lead protagonist Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), she teams with a group of other children to form a resistance group designed to wrestle back control from the grown ups.
In true young adult fashion expect more than a few plot inconsistencies to creep in here and the inevitable romantic teases that seem to form the crux of stories like this once again take centre stage. Still, despite this the story features a good blend of action and world building all culminating in a slightly frustrating third act that teases more to come in future sequels that may or may not arrive depending on how well this does at the box office.
Having said all that, there’s nothing here that’s particularly bad. Despite some questionable performances from a few of the children, the majority of the film is competently made and those in the target demographic will surely enjoy this one. The characters are generally easy to root for, despite being a little archetypal, and the visual effects are consistently impressive and used well throughout the film’s 90 minute run time. Those not in the 15-21 demographic and those who feel more than a little burnt out following the onslaught of other similar young adult films will be hard pressed to find a compelling reason to stick around with this one.
How much you’ll enjoy The Darkest Minds really comes down to your tolerance level for young adult dystopian fiction. Those not already burnt out from The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent and all the rest of these novels-turned-film series will find plenty to enjoy here and on its own, The Darkest Minds is a perfectly enjoyable film. Even if it does leave the door wide open for a sequel. Next to all the rest in this genre that have over-saturated and burnt out the market, The Darkest Minds is a forgettable, overly familiar film that just doesn’t do enough to carve its own slice of the diminished pie.