'The Darkest Minds' review: A familiar YA tale that is worth watching

Kung Fu Panda director Jennifer Yuh Nelson tackles her first live action film 'The Darkest Minds' with a story of bravery, loss and love.


                            'The Darkest Minds' review: A familiar YA tale that is worth watching

Superpowers are not everything they are cracked up to be in the first installment of Alexandra Bracken's YA trilogy 'The Darkest Minds'. In this dystopian-teen-fantasy-thriller, a disease wipes out 98% of the world's children leaving the remaining 2% with superpowers ranging from mind control to telekinesis. The government rounds up the last 2% of children left on earth and sends them all to rehabilitation facilities, which is just a nice way of saying concentration-camps.

The film follows Ruby Daly (played by Amandla Stenberg of 'The Hunger Games' franchise) a 16-year-old African-American girl with dangerous abilities that she does not know how to control. With the help of a seemingly benevolent doctor named Cate (played by Mandy Moore), Ruby escapes the rehabilitation facility after six years of torture and ends up joining forces with three other teenagers with abilities on the run.

Mandy Moore, Dan Cohen, Amandla Stenberg, Miya Cech, Skylan Brooks, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Alexandra Bracken and Chad Hodge attend a screening of 20th Century Fox's 'Darkest Minds' at ArcLight Hollywood on July 26, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Each of the four represents a different color, which is indicative of their specific power and how big of a threat they pose to the world:  There's Zu (Miya Cech), a young Asian-American girl who can harness electricity, her color being yellow; Chubs (Skylan Brooks) an African-American green who is the genius of the group; the eldest Liam (Harris Dickinson) a white teenage boy representing blue, with the capability of moving things with his mind; and lastly there is, of course, Ruby, who is orange, which means she is categorized as the most dangerous of them all with the capability of mind control and is superseded only by red, the most lethal out of all of the colors.  

Alexandra Bracken, Miya Cech, Skylan Brooks, Harris Dickinson, and Jennifer Yuh Nelson of 'The Darkest Minds' attends the 2018 WIRED Cafe at SDCC presented by AT&T Audience Network at Omni Hotel on July 21, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED)

On their mission to a super secret camp in which the children live in a seemingly utopian civilization where they are protected and free, the four teens become each other's family. Just like any other good YA dystopian film, there is , of course, a heartfelt love story (between Ruby and Liam) that tugs at the viewer's heartstrings right up until the very end. While this trope is all too familiar in the YA world, the chemistry and innocence that Stenberg (Ruby) and Dickinson (Liam) bring, make this love story one that viewers enjoy and hold dear to their hearts.

With that being said, the film speeds through its final act leaving us with an ending that not only begs for a sequel but needs one in order for the audience to really care about this story.  As 'The Darkest Minds' novel is actually a trilogy, here's hoping that the second installment is already in the works.  In some ways, this film felt like the pilot of a television series, and we only got half of the first season. Additionally, Moore is by far the biggest name in the film and gets the least amount of screen time. Hence, one of the reasons why 'The Darkest Minds' deserves to finish its story and give Moore the role that we were all so excited to see.

All in all, director Jennifer Yuh Nelson's first attempt at helming a live action film was a success. While the dystopian YA genre has more or less run its course in the world of film and television, Nelson does a good job of bringing it back and making the story somewhat reflective of the current state of the world.

'The Darkest Minds' hits theaters in the US on August 3 and in the UK on August 10.