The Darkest Minds Review
Based off the popular book series, The Darkest Minds definitely has a solid atmosphere and concept that could set up a film series, but lacks the storytelling and characters that makes it deserve more films.
After an unknown event causes children across the U.S. to either die or develop superpowers, the government decides to put the children in containment camps and separate them from their families. Segregated by color and kept under cruel conditions, Ruby (Amanda Stenberg) has had enough as the only remaining “orange” left and decides to escape containment. With the help of a mysterious doctor (Mandy Moore), Ruby escapes and finds other runaways (Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Miya Cech) and decides to join them to find a supposed sanctuary for kids.
I actually found the film’s premise and atmosphere to be pretty realistic and had a sense of darkness to it that successfully establishes the gravity of their situation. It makes for plenty of intriguing distrust and actually sets up some interesting lore in the world, like having bounty hunter and established organizations.
However, a lot of this set up is extremely downplayed as many of the side characters the film introduces are rarely seen or talked about throughout the film. This, along with the film’s unsatisfying ending as it is meant to lead into the next film/book, drastically take away from the cool and interesting world they set up and focus on the teenage drama seen in plenty of other films.
The Darkest Minds’ characters are tropes that are constantly seen and lack any sort of character development or unique qualities. While Stenberg and Dickinson make for some relatively interesting romantic leads, their relationship is often hit or miss and can even feel incredibly forced at times. Dickinson’s acting can also turn a little stiff at times, but Stenberg definitely proved herself as a tough, intelligent, and capable leading lady. There was also a huge amount of over-acting from many of the military characters to the point where it was almost laughably bad.
The world of The Darkest Minds also loses some of its logic and creativity with some of its characters superpowers. Many of the character’s powers are often based on brain functionality leading to them to have powers like telekinesis or mind control. So as they describe the different powers and how they describe the danger levels of each, it becomes a little nonsensical with what they defined as the “most dangerous.” It feels completely out of left field compared to the other powers character’s had and honestly feels like they just ran out of ideas.
The effects for the powers are pretty good though and they do a nice job highlighting each of the five variants. The film does a nice job showcasing both the exceptional and mundane uses of their powers. It definitely asks its audience to have a lot of suspension of disbelief, but for the most part each of the powers adds a unique aspect to the overall world around them.
The Darkest Minds will mostly lose its viewers, from the focus of drama over action. For a film that focuses on its characters having superpowers, it really lacks any sort of fun action moments that could make the film a little more memorable. And since the character development and teen romance isn’t necessarily that strong, audiences will be begging for more action-packed moments to take them away from all the drama.
If The Darkest Minds can get the future films it clearly sets up for and plans to have, maybe it can fix some of the blandness and action-less moments its starter presents. It has an interesting and satisfying dark world, but chooses to focus on illogical plot moments and typical characters instead.