Newest Reviews
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Toll, The
Two of Us
Nowhere Special
Rainbow Jacket, The
Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1
First Cow
Undiscovered Tomb
Being Frank
Occupation: Rainfall
Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
  Darkest Minds, The The kids aren't alright
Year: 2018
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Stars: Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Bradley Whitford, Harris Dickinson, Patrick Gibson, Skylan Brooks, Miya Cech, Gwendoline Christie, Wade Williams, Mark O'Brien, Wallace Langham, Golden Brooks, Sammi Rotibi, Lidya Jewett, McCarrie McCausland
Genre: Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A mysterious disease wipes out ninety-eight percent of children across the United States. When the survivors develop strange superpowers the government imprisons them in an internment camp. One such child is sixteen year old Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) whose mind-altering abilities inadvertently wiped all trace of her existence from her parents' memories. Kindly doctor Cate (Mandy Moore) springs Ruby out of the internment camp in the hope of taking her to a resistance group called the League. However, reluctant to trust any adult, Ruby runs away and joins a group of similarly super-powered kids - handsome Liam (Harris Dickinson), brainy Chubs (Skylan Brooks) and young Zu (Miya Cech). Dogged by bounty hunters and government troops the kids search for a rumoured but elusive haven for their kind.

Films based on young adult fantasy novels may have peaked several years ago and yielded nothing but flops since. Yet that has not stopped studios vainly pursuing the next Twilight (2008) or The Hunger Games (2012). Based on Alexandra Bracken's dystopian sci-fi adventure of the same name and co-produced by Shawn Levy, hot off another tale of paranormally gifted kids with Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things, The Darkest Minds was another box-office casualty joining the corpses of The 5th Wave (2016), Ender's Game (2013), Beautiful Creatures (2013), The Host (2013) and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) littering the hall of failed franchises. Given the source novels were all bestsellers and the films themselves redeemed by interesting ideas and solid acting from rising stars it is possible a growing fan-base may some day re-evaluate and elevate them to cult status. The way earlier generations rescued key genre films from the Eighties and Nineties that failed to connect with the mainstream.

Working with a conceit somewhat in the vein of X-Men or perhaps more aptly The New Mutants, The Darkest Minds certainly hits all the familiar beats in the young adult fantasy sub-genre. Hunger Games veteran Amandla Stenberg essays another sullen yet steely and determined teen heroine in the Katniss Everdeen mould while the plot, as adapted by screenwriter Chad Hodge, reassures young viewers that "everyone has a place in the world" whilst drawing a parallel between growing up and learning the importance of sacrifice and using one's talents for a greater good. Yet amidst the clich├ęs Darkest Minds pulls off a handful of potent moments that, whether by accident or design, reflect the current political climate. Images of armed soldiers herding children like cattle or corralling them behind bars are uncomfortably similar to the real life treatment of child immigrants by the Trump administration. In addition scenes of children and teenagers organizing themselves into resistance groups seem to echo 'woke' millennial activist groups like the Parkland survivors or climate change protesters.

However, despite the potentially grim subject matter the treatment is more lightweight compared to the confrontational Hunger Games films or even The Maze Runner (2014). Making her live-action directorial debut, animator Jennifer Yuh Nelson takes time out from the sci-fi conspiracy angle for teen romance, jokes about Harry Potter, cutesy moments scored by a bubblegum pop soundtrack and even a shopping montage. Nelson handles the action competently if unspectacularly, compared to the dynamism she brought to Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011), and the film lacks a strong visual identity. The cast features seasoned performers like Bradley Whitford (as a seemingly duplicitous President), Mandy Moore and Gwendoline Christie (as a psychotic bounty hunter) but sidelines the grownups to focus on the youngsters who are engaging even if some characters lack definition. Stendberg, a star on the rise, does especially well with several tragic emotional beats. Though the film comes dangerously close to extolling a kids: good, grownups: bad message a late hour plot twist goes some way toward establishing a more balanced view. While events defining the world of the film might be hectic the pace is sedate. The plot falls into a deep lull in its second act before rescued by a few tragic turns leading to a poignant finale referencing, of all things, Superman II (1980).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1926 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: