No one is safe from fads, it just takes some longer to get into them than others. When it comes to the world of movies, you get those surprise hits and you usually don’t have to wait long to find that many, many copycats closely follow. Making movies though takes time so that cool thing you saw three years ago now has a bunch of wannabes that don’t quite feel as hip anymore. Do people still say ‘hip’? Anyway, the original idea I am referring to in this case is Stranger Things and what we have here is a variation that hopes to catch lighting in a bottle like the popular Netflix series, but sadly, The Darkest Minds misses completely.
Whitney Houston once said that she believed the children were our future, but in this world they become our past. A strange virus has killed most children and the ones that are left over everyone fears, because of new abilities they have developed. So all of them are rounded up and put in camps where they are separated by colors that represent their danger levels. Those colors are green, blue, yellow, red, and orange with the final two colors being considered the ones that are too dangerous to live. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) is one of those surviving kids and is taken to a camp where she is discovered to be orange, but thanks to an ability she has, she is able to live undetected for six years, but you can’t hide forever. When she is found out she meets a doctor named Cate (Mandy Moore) who helps her escape. After they do she meets a friend of Cate’s but in a moment of fear runs away and ends up on the run a a group of others. They are led by Liam (Harris Dickinson) who can move things with his mind and with him is Charles (Skylan Brooks) and a little girl named Zu (Miya Cech) who doesn’t talk much but has an electric personality. Together they flee to a safe haven for kids like themselves to try and survive in a world that doesn’t want them anymore.
Watching this gave me the same feeling I have when I go to the grocery store and I see the off-brand of Captain Crunch. Sure it looks the same but when it gets down to it there is some ingredient lacking. In the case of The Darkest Minds that something is that it has no soul whatsoever or for that matter and most importantly, there are no characters you care anything about. The screenplay written by Chad Hodge from Alexandra Bracken’s novel has that same feeling as when after Twilight became the hit is was and everyone tried to find the next one only to discover a lot of mediocre properties. While most of this is doom and gloom there was one bright spot and that was Amandla Stenberg, who has a future of ‘going to be in everything’ written all over her. After that though the rest of this world and this movie is pretty bleak, and not really worth any investment. You get the feeling that Hollywood will try any YA property and throw it at the wall to see if it sticks, the only problem is most of them break instead. So don’t waste your time on this one, but if you do, the good thing is you won’t remember it for very long.