The Darkest Minds is a 2018 American science-fiction thriller movie directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, best known for movies such as Kung Fu Panda 2 as well as Kung Fu Panda 3. Set in a dystopian world, it follows a group of super-powered teenage fugitives who are trying to keep a low profile and stay beyond the reach of their government.
Ruby Daly, in all honesty, was a bit here and there for me. Played by Amandla Stenberg, she is a girl who possesses special abilities that include mind manipulation, mind reading and memory erasing. On one hand, the character is somewhat compelling in that I was able to get her deal. I understood why she was reclusive towards most people she interacts with not only because she was afraid that her powers might do more harm than good to other people but also because she could not afford to trust anybody since she is on the run.
That said, the mentioned traits are indeed the bane to her existence in that she moves in and out of them in a very inconsistent manner. One minute Dr. Cate Connor (Mandy Moore) saves her from bondage and she is grateful to her. Not long after that, she runs away from the doctor but eventually turns to her for aid. Yet another case of inconsistency with her character is when she is whining to her new friends about her desire to go back home and be reunited with her parents but when she is ultimately on the brink of it, she changes her mind again and the excuse for it from my view is appalling to say the least.
From an audience member’s perspective, such contradictions are quite unfair but at the same time she, through the actor that plays her in Amandla, does make up for it. This is achieved through relatively emotional story arcs which include her own journey of strife throughout the film as well as a love story arc between him and Liam, portrayed by Harris Dickinson, which has an unexpected ending might I add.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
From the get-go, I could tell I was probably going to dislike the movie based on that confusing opening scene at an elementary school. It’s like the photoplay started where it wasn’t supposed to but tries to bring you up to speed with an exposition, a lousy one at that by the way. I’m no film-maker myself but I have watched movies long enough to know plots shouldn’t be set up like that, not in my book.
The latter so happens to be the tip of the iceberg as far as this flick’s flaws are concerned. There are quite a number of things I didn’t like on here; so much so I’m just going to mention them in the quickest but most informative way possible.
To begin with, there is a disease that gives children superpowers; the movie doesn’t even care to explain its genesis, how it spreads and why does it only affects children. *Secondly, Ruby somehow knows how to use her powers almost immediately after she discovers she has them; a classic flaw that I have seen numerously in films alike. *Additionally, the government eventually finds a way of confining these kids with ‘superpower sickness’ in a manageable way but does the movie take it’s time to clarify as to how they end up doing it successfully? Absolutely not!
*The dialogue is considerably stuffed with lethargy except for some select scenes where it made sense, mostly the emotional ones. *Some scenes were poorly written; the one that stood out for me was a car chase scene that totally made no sense. We have this teenager with telekinesis who is doing all kinds of unnecessary stuff with his powers as he tries to stop cars that are chasing after him and the gang while he could have just used those same powers to veer those cars off the road and into the nearby forest.
*Certain characters blurt out some words that evidently made meaning to them but not to me as a viewer e.g. tracers and E.D.O. *The pacing of events is very slow and draggy; there are a reasonable number of pointless scenes that did not reflect the stakes in play and which didn’t feel like they led to anything meaningful. *Despite being a thriller, or should I say a ‘thriller’, there is little to no suspense. *The main villain is weak, unintimidating and had no backstory whatsoever aside from, you guessed it… expositional dialogue. *On here, we have a clichéd storyline where we have an individual who acts as a messianic figure to others of the same sort. *Finally, the flick’s finale (see what I did there) borrows a lot from other movies where protagonists go up against an evil version of themselves.
On the flipside, there are a few things I liked about this photoplay. The cinematography and editing is commendable; I didn’t have a problem with them and I think they were used well during a certain car chase montage that I mentioned before in this review. The lighting was exceptional and seamless; this element tends to be hard done by in some films exclusively during night scenes but not here, they were legit and lit well. The music is enjoyable, I’ll give it that. Nonetheless, there are some moments where it was overused and eventually failed to blend well with the scenes they are in.
Well, I can confidently say that The Darkest Minds felt like 2011’s ‘X-Men; First Class’ and 2016’s ‘Max Steel’ had a baby; as hilarious or maybe as bland as it may sound. That’s my take and perhaps you have your own different take, or you will have one assuming you haven’t watched this already. Yes, opinion is subjective and I advocate for that but in this case, you’ll probably agree with my treatment of this motion-picture; I’m counting on it.