As someone who normally stays away from the science fiction genre, it may be a surprise that I actually chose to watch this one, seeing as it is advertised as a ‘dystopian sci-fi thriller’. But that’s what happens when you have a streaming service at your disposal and you are just flicking through. A picture catches your eye and if the synopsis looks interesting, you might just end up watching something that you wouldn’t normally choose. And that’s exactly what happened here.
The Darkest Minds takes us to a twisted world where 98% of Earth’s children have died and the survivors have developed super powers that have led the adults to fear anyone under the age of 18. Ruby Daly is one of those survivors, and joins a rebellious group of teenagers to fight for the right to reclaim their futures. It may sound like an interesting idea and when the movie started, it really was quite interesting and gripping, but then it all went a little bit wrong.
For a film described as a thriller, a rather slow moving story line and sub plots that are never quite explained sadly destroy the thrill factor. As the story moves forward, the plot becomes a little bit lost and confused. It’s almost as if they are trying to cram so much into one story, that it simply becomes impossible to bulk out each point enough in the running time. One moment it’s an action film, then there’s a little bit of road trip movie thrown in, then sci-fi is thrown on top. Plot points are therefore left underdeveloped and I was left feeling as if I hardly knew some of the characters at all. We are introduced to a group of rebellious teens who seem to just appear with little to no backstory and even their mission to reclaim their feature feels unexplained.
The cast, including Amandla Stenberg as leading character Ruby, do well with what they are given, but in terms of character development, they just are not given very much. The film seems too focused on creating this strange world where children are feared, that all it’s attention is on that and the story and characters fall a little bit flat. Maybe I am looking into it too much, in thinking that I would like everything explained, but I just feel that explanation is exactly what this film needs. What killed all of the children, and why did some survive and gain powers? Who decided to put the survivors into prison camps? Where did these other teenagers, including a mysterious younger child who doesn’t speak and has to wear clothes, come from? There are just so many questions and very few answers.
As the movie nears its strange and complicated conclusion, it becomes clear that the story writers seem to be really pushing for a sequel, as the final scene is incredibly open ended. By the end of the film, all I was thinking was ‘what just happened’. More questions and even less answers. It’s a real shame because this could have been a really interesting and exciting film because the idea was there, this world where children have superpowers and are hidden away and left to fight on their own. But sadly, it just doesn’t work. It’s simply too slow and dragged out with new ideas being slotted in constantly with no explanation.