By Kaylee Brewster
Two out of Four
“The Darkest Minds,” the film adaptation of a Young Adult novel, checks off everything you need — but might not want — in an YA film.
Dystopian future? Check.
There is a sickness that has wiped out most of the kids on earth, and the kids who have survived now have powers. They are then sorted into camps based on their abilities. The ones who are deemed too dangerous are killed on sight.
Strong female character? Check.
The story centers on Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) who is very powerful but manages to hide under the radar. She meets a group of kids like her working together to find a place where they can be free and safe.
Stenberg gives a solid performance as Ruby and is the only stand out. She shows her worries and fears about her powers in a convincing way — and when Ruby smiles you can’t help but smile with her.
As the main actor, Ruby also benefits from being the most developed character. Others are given stock personalities, and the film doesn’t give them the chance to come into their own.
One of those cookie-cutter characters is Liam (Harris Dickinson). You can see the potential romance a mile away. However, the film doesn’t give the relationship, or even other relationships, between characters a chance to grow. One minute they’re strangers trying not to get killed, the next they’re leaning in for the kiss.
Teens fighting an evil government? Check.
Just as the characters aren’t developed to their full potential, neither is the plot.
“The Darkest Minds” sets up a complicated world that isn’t fully explained to audiences. All that’s really clear is that the teens are trying to survive while various government groups are trying to kill, contain or use them.
In the midst of the confusion and conflict, the story at times moves along nicely, only to jump to something new and slow down.
It also feels too similar to films like “Hunger Games,” “Divergent” “Maze Runner” and “The Fifth Wave.” You start to lose track of what was in those films and what is in this one.
If you’re looking for a wrap-it-up-in-one-film movie “The Darkest Minds” isn’t for you. The ending clearly sets up a sequel. Hopefully by the time it arrives the kinks will be worked out. “The Darkest Minds” could be fun and exciting — it has superpowered kids for crying out loud — but it focuses too much on the power of love and not the power of its main character.