Reel Reviews | Darkest Minds

by Monica Hayes

Darkest Minds is the newest young adult novel to see the big screen, but it should have stayed on the shelves.

A mysterious disease that only affected children has caused an epidemic and killed more than half of the population’s children. You would think officials would try to find the cause from the children that died, but no. The CDC and the White House are more afraid of the children that survived because they developed special powers. Each power level is ranked from the safest, Green, to the more dangerous levels of red and orange. Red and orange levels are killed on site.

As a child, Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) survived the epidemic, or so she thought. On her 10th birthday, her powers emerged and her life changed forever. Now placed into one of the “camps” for special children, she is evaluated and learns that she is an orange. However, instead of being killed, she manipulates the attending physician into placing her into the green category where she hides for six years as a green. That’s until Cate (Mandy Moore), a member of The League, helps her escape. When she and Cate meet up with Rob (Mark O’Brien), Ruby becomes suspicious of their intentions and runs away. She runs into Zu (Miya Chech), a yellow who can control electricity; Liam (Harris Dickinson) a blue who can move things with his mind; and Chubs (Skylan Brooks), a green who is considered the most intelligent of them all. Together, they search out the Slipkid and the safe haven where all colors can live without the threat of danger.

Just like its counterparts, The Darkest Minds is another feather in the cap of the young-adult genre. If you have seen The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Maze Runner, Twilight and the  X-Men, then you have seen Darkest Minds. The similarities between them are obvious. There are several times in the film where you can literally pick out lines from one of the other films. The story was just alright. There is minimal background information given on how the children were killed. You know there is an epidemic and kids died, but those who survived, there is no information given about how they obtained their gifts. There was no sense of how each character evolved into the person they became. It seemed like the story is a futuristic Romeo and Juliet mixed with supernatural abilities that didn’t work well.

Stenberg, Dickinson, Cech, and Brooks are the modern-day X-Men. Stenberg gives off a Professor X/Jean Grey vibe; Dickinson gives off a Magneto vibe; Cech gives off the Surge vibe, and Brooks has enhanced intellect that rivals Bruce Banner and Tony Stark. On the other hand, you have villains that remind you of General Thunderbolt Ross and Aldrich Killian. So yea, this is just a bootlegged version of the Marvel Universe.

Overall, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 makes a tough transition into live action. The story needs work, the action is average. Don’t waste your time or money watching this movie. If you do, make it a double-feature.

Grade C-