Amandla StenbergBradley Whitford...
Jennifer Yuh Nelson
In 1 Cinema
Heroes in films save the day, the city, the country, and sometimes even the entire world. But the heroes in The Darkest Minds can’t save their own film from flopping, no matter how charming they may be.
Set in a world where a deadly plague has killed off most children, The Darkest Minds follows one of the surviving super-power-having kids, Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), who escaped the camps the government created to contain the children’s superpowers. Trying to find her way to a place to make a new home, Ruby tags along with a group of runways made up of handsome leader Liam (Harris Dickinson), brainy sidekick Chubs (Skylan Brooks), and mute child Zu (Miya Cech). Together the group seeks a camp made for kids by kids: the last hope for a place to call home.
Not a lot of originality points there, especially with recent young power films from The Hunger Games to The Maze Runner, X Men, and many more. The film’s plot also does not focus on the foundation of the film as to why the plague happened, why some kids survived, and how they gained super powers. Instead, the film spoon feeds the audience the short and thin foundation in a forced voice over in the beginning of film. The film also contained absurd scenes that took it from a cool/imaginative film to pure amateurish absurdity.
The Darkest Minds’ strong suit is character development; the filmmakers were able to create characters that seemed like real, three-dimensional people, and were able to get the audience to actually care about these characters and what happens to them. That is one major reason this film is watchable and, subjectively, even enjoyable. And even though that does not make up for the lack of originality, the gaps in the foundation, and the absurd scenes, it forces you to care about the characters and maybe even the film itself.
The other reason this film is not a total train wreck is the acting; Amandla Stenberg shows off her acting prowess and is able to show emotions without being over the top or cliché, and even though the film’s plot does not help, she forces you to like Ruby and care about her. Other than his dreamy good looks, Harris Dickinson does very well in his role as the strong, caring leader with a genuine performance. The chemistry between Stenberg and Dickinson in the film is quite a gem and is one of the few of the film’s saviours. Ruby and Liam’s love story is not cliché, artificial nor over the top. This is mainly because of Stenberg and Dickinson themselves.
Playing Liam’s brainy sidekick Chubs, Skylan Brooks will make you laugh almost every time he opens his mouth and he asserts his talent without budging an inch into the sidelines. Miya Su was especially impressive, conveying so much of her character without uttering a word, and at such a young age.
Conclusively, if you have a couple of hours and nothing better to do, you probably won’t mind watching this, but it is no masterpiece.