When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and they must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
. Starring: Amandla Stenberg
, Mandy Moore
, Bradley Whitford
, Gwendoline Christie
, Harris Dickinson
, Patrick Gibson
, Miya Cech
, Mark O'Brien
, Wallace Langham
, Golden Brooks
, Wade Williams
, Makenzie Collier
, Skylan Brooks
. Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
In an unspecified year in the future, 98% of American kids were wiped out by a mysterious disease called Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (or IAAN). 10-year old Ruby Daly was one of the survivors. She and the other survivors of the plague were gathered up by the government and put them in a camp.
There the kids were classified by color, based on the special ability that they possessed: Greens were geniuses. Blues were telepathics. Golds had electrical powers. Reds and Oranges were rare, but were considered dangerous and were terminated on site. Ruby was an Orange. She had to discover how to use her power in order to survive.
When Ruby was able to escape from her camp, she met and made friends with a group of fellow runaways, namely Zu (a Yellow cutie), Chubbs (a Green nerd) and Liam (a Blue jock). Inevitably, a romance will bloom between Ruby and Liam, a common angle in these YA books. They eventually found and sought refuge in EDO, a camp for survivor kids.
I went into this film not knowing that it was based on the first book of a young adult book series written by Alexandra Bracken. Her "The Darkest Minds" series started in 2012, and is now already into its fifth installment. When it came to the part about classifying the kids according to their abilities, "Divergent" immediately came to mind. That book series by Veronica Roth began in 2011. So these two were basically one in spirit, riding the same YA trend in the earlier part of this decade.
However, the film version of "Divergent" came out in 2014, just about the same time when similar YA films like "The Hunger Games" (2012) and its sequels, "The Giver" (2014) and "The Maze Runner" (2014) came out. That is the problem with "The Darkest Minds," it came out at this time when this trend had already run out of steam. Even the sequels of "Divergent" and "Maze Runner" only did middling box office business when they were released more recently.
Up and coming young actress Amandla Sternberg played Ruby. She has the star quality and screen presence seen in Jennifer Lawrence (as Katniss Everdeen) and Shailene Woodley (as Beatrice Prior). Sternberg began her career as young Cataleya in "Columbiana" (2011) and as Rue in "The Hunger Games" (2012). She had her first lead role last year in "Everything, Everything," and now this. With the sensitive acting she showed here, it is not far-fetched that she will also earn critical acclaim in the future.
Harris Dickinson played Liam Stewart. He was in the same mold as Theo James (as Four in "Divergent"), looking and acting a lot like him. Skylan Brooks and Miya Cech play her other friends Chubs and Suzume "Zu", respectively. Patrick Gibson played Clancy Gray, the son of the US President and a fellow Orange who took a special interest in Ruby.
Former teen star Mandy Moore (from "A Walk to Remember," 2002) is now 34 years old, and played Dr. Cate, a doctor from the resistance (Children's League) who helped Ruby escape the camp. Bradley Whitford played US President Grey, a shadowy figurehead much like President Snow was in "Hunger Games." "Game of Thrones" star Gwendoline Christie had a few scenes as Lady Jane, a bounty hunter chasing runaway kids.
Watching "The Darkest Minds" gave me a "been there, done that" feeling. I could not help but see just another rehash of all the previous YA adventure series, and that was also reflected in this review. It did have its own twists, particularly regarding a certain power that only Ruby can perform, but it will take sequels to explore how this story will proceed from the familiar set-up it had begun with here. As of now though, we are still not sure if those sequels will come or not.
Review by 3xHCCH from the Internet Movie Database.