Clearly, there are a million and one other dystopian teen flicks that The Darkest Minds could be compared to – The Hunger Games, Divergent, even X-Men, to name but a few. But honestly, it feels unfair to watch this film with anything other than fresh eyes.
So, with this in mind, let’s make one thing clear – The Darkest Minds is hugely enjoyable. Nelson brings a light touch to her dystopian flick, not getting too bogged down by the detail and executing what is a fast paced and endlessly entertaining addition to the young adult genre.
Not only that, but it’s a genuinely cool concept – sure, we’ve seen superpowers and segregation before. But not quite like this, and certainly not in a young adult flick with a cast of this ilk. These are probably the most refreshingly non-irritating kids you’ll find in a teen franchise, with special mention due to Harris Dickinson for his notably low-key performance.
OK, so maybe there are some elements here that don’t feel particularly new or special. For example, the relentlessly awkward love story, something that seems to be a prerequisite for young adult fiction nowadays. Although it’s not too much of a hindrance, it does feel surplus to requirements – probably owing to the fact that their teen romance doesn’t ever really go anywhere, ultimately making Stenberg and Dickinson’s lazy courtship a bit of a waste of screen time.
Derivative themes and sickly-sweet love stories aside, The Darkest Minds is a worthy addition to the ranks of the dystopian teen flick. Sure, there’s not a lot of new ground covered here, and equally any twists can be seen coming from about five miles away. But it’s enjoyable enough, and the concept alone will probably be enough to keep even the most jaded audiences entertained.
CAST: Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Bradley Whitford
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
WRITERS: Chad Hodge
SYNOPSIS: 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.