An unknown disease runs rampant throughout mankind and 98% of the world’s children die. The other 2%, though, have incredible superpowers and the government fears those powers. Those with ‘benign” abilities are forced into detention centers and those considered “malignant” are killed immediately in “The Darkest Minds.”
This is the first big screen adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s YA trilogy, The Darkest Minds” and, knowing nothing about it, I expected another “Hunger Games” or “Maze Runner.” When I saw those youth-oriented dystopian views of the future, I was less than whelmed by either the stories or the characters. “The Darkest Minds” is a bit different, and better.
The one thing that struck me while watching “The Darkest Minds,” and it may not have been the intent of the filmmakers - considering the time between shooting a film and the release of the finished product is usually more than a couple of months – was the events depicted in this dystopian world are eerily parallel to those that have been taking place in our country the past few months.
The disease that killed most of the world’s children left those with amazing, not understood, extraordinary powers. Most, dubbed “greens” by the government, are super smart but not “harmful.” The rest – blue, gold, red and orange – have other powers like channeling electricity, telekinesis and, with the orange kids, mind control. Since none of the changes are understood, the government decides to intern all of the surviving children in maximum security prisons. The children are often ripped from the arms of their parents.
The story follows Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), an orange who used her powers on the officials to be designated a “green.” In this dysfunctional world, oranges are immediately euthanized when discovered and Ruby must survive. Years go by and the children are still confined and there is no government plan, except to confine them under brutal conditions.
An underground group of freedom fighters, called the League, in the guise of Cate (Mandy Moore), helps free Ruby and she ends up on the run, alone. She meets a trio of other misfit children - Liam (Harris Dickinson), Chubs (Skylan Brooks) and Zu (Miya Cech) – and they join forces to find freedom. (This young quartet of actors really fleshes out their characters effectively.)
They end up in a refugee children’s camp that accepts all colors to live in harmony. There, they comes under the control of the charismatic camp leader, Clancy Gray (Patrick Gibson), the tortured son who wants revenge against his father, the President (Bradley Whitford), the man responsible for the mass internments of children. You can figure there is going to be a battle but the story keeps you guessing with whom.
I mentioned parallels to our world today. At one point, in the children interment camp, the camera shows an overhead view of the young inmates being marched, in harsh artificial lights, to their quarters. The image is almost exactly like the ones we have seen of our own internment centers housing those children ripped from the arms of their parents. Because of this and other parallels to our own tumultuous society, I will call the makers of “The Darkest Minds” prescient observers of our time. I give it a B-.
Laura did not see this film.
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