This week is The Darkest Minds because I wasn’t actually interested in The Spy Who Dumped Me and the realistic stuffed animals of Christopher Robin terrified me. This is the classic example of low expectations – I generally don’t like Young Adult movies (especially when based on Young Adult Fiction) and the trailer made The Darkest Minds look pretty silly. Still, I was in a good mood and I liked the ‘Push’ (which had a similar premise) and I found myself pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that bad. I’m going to spoil small details in this review but no plot points.
Imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control of their future.
I think the thing about Young Adult content that I don’t like is because it knows its demographic. The protagonist is always an ridiculously gifted teenager and adults are always ridiculously unreasonable villains. The Darkest Minds is no exception to this but it has refined itself. Now ALL teenagers are gifted and ALL adults are out to get them for one reason or another. That seems a little extreme. But here, they made it to work, at least for the duration of the movie – (1 hour, 44 minutes, excellent length).
There’s more than a little Fridge Logic in Darkest Minds though. Fridge Logic is the stuff that occurs to you as you put the movie on pause and go to the fridge. If half of all kids died, would adults really incarcerate all the survivors? Even with superpowers, would you put the future of the human race in camps and guard them with guns? And make them polish shoes instead of going to school? That’s cartoonish even for Young Adult Fiction. Also one of the most common powers was that of Extreme Intelligence. I have to wonder, if you got that many geniuses in a room, wouldn’t they find a way to break your prison? Like, ALL the time? I could go on but let’s not.
I really liked the casting and acting. Amandla Stenberg was a great choice for a lead, she was absolutely sympathetic. Patrick Gibson was perfect for his roll, too, as the influential leader of the kid’s rebel camp. And Harris Dickinson was also excellent and, I might add, actually 20 years old, so I can add that he is very handsome. There were some strong performances. I liked the visual effects too, and the action scenes were well shot.
So is The Darkest Minds worth watching? Maybe. If you’re a teen with a persecution complex, you’ll love it. If you’re older and like a more refined storytelling experience, you should give this one a pass. It’s actually well made and there’s some clever bits too. I found it a bit predictable; not because they foreshadowed well but because there’s a certain way that a plot has to work if you’re going to fill an entire movie. Emotionally it’s a bit ham-fisted but that’s also a fault of the genre. Still, I enjoyed myself and I wasn’t bored.