We know that in the cinema those who arrive second – in proposing any kind of content, visual or narrative – in the eyes of the public will remain forever " younger brother of this " or the " far relative of that ". Darkest Minds not only is not exempt from this problem, but it is even its primary source, that is the novel of the same name from which the film is drawn, to appear incredibly derivative.
Written in 2012 by Alexandra Bracken The Darkest Minds brings together elements of the most famous young modern novels (first of all Hunger Games ), mixed with world of comics, starting with X-Men . The novel to us cinephiles may not even matter (or import relatively), but the problem is that all the narrative cues and all the visual ideas in the film Jennifer Yuh Nelson have already been seen or told before today, both at the cinema and on television, countless times and much better than that.
Dystopia for young people
The funniest thing to do during the film is to find all the sources of inspiration for the screenplay of Alexandra Bracken and Chad Hodge : at a base from Hunger Games with breading of X-Men is added a spray of Divergent and a pinch of Twilight stuffing with a garnish of The Leftovers and dusting with a little bit of Infinity War . The plot is set in the near future, where an illness cancels 98% of people under the age of 18, while the remaining 2% (in practice the same numbers of the HBO series created by Damon Lindelof ) receives special powers: some become simply very intelligent, some develop telekinetic skills (like the Jedi), some strange electrical skills, someone can cast fireballs and someone else discovers that they can control or read the minds of others.
In short, the franchise of X-Men reported at the high school age (which, among other things, already made with the last film of the saga, Apocalypse ).
But back to us: fearing this new situation, the government takes the children with controllable powers and transfers them into brand new labor camps, or shooting the most dangerous ones (the telepaths and the fireballs). All this based on a selection process focused on colors, where the green corresponds to the lowest level of threat, mostly reserved for super-intelligent children, blue at a medium level, those that can manipulate matter, yellow to one major (electricity) and so on.
Our protagonist, Ruby ( Amandla Stenberg ), is in the most dangerous category, that of mental control (orange). It follows that his life is at risk, since the government dangerous children kills them directly, so he decides to hide in the green category, that of the intelligent. The trick works for a while, but then obviously things will get complicated and Ruby, along with other peers, will be forced not only to set himself in the bush, but also to become the symbol of a revolution.
A new film, but already seen
The Stenberg, which alongside Nick Robinson was really adorable in its fragility in We Are All seems to have to express the magnetic personality of a character who assumes strong but instead is often uncertain. In his defense, it must be said that even the director proves to have no clear in mind how to manage the character, hiding his indecision as soon as he can focus on the love story between the protagonist and her boyfriend, Liam ( Harris Dickinson ), but also here the sense of déjà vu is present: in X-Men Rogue was afraid to kiss the Ice Man – or touch anyone else – because he would have risked killing him; same thing Robert Pattinson in Twilight whose vampire nature would be awakened in kissing Kristen Stewart . And, guess what, in Darkest Minds Ruby fears that, touching Liam, he could mess his brain up.
The action sequences and the CGI, present but not very incisive, do not hit the mark. The adults in the supporting cast, as Gwendoline Christie, Mandy Moore and Bradley Whitford are sadly underused. Well instead the costumes: the film manages to stand out in the look, but unfortunately this can not be enough to save a film that simply fails to stand out in a market full of similar productions.