The Darkest Minds

The ones who changed will change everything.

Sci-fi thriller starring Everything, Everything's Amandla Stenberg, set following a bacterial outbreak that kills 98% of Earth's children. Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of the Oscar-nominated Kung Fu Panda 2, helms.

After a disease kills the majority of America's children, the surviving 2% develop superpowers and are placed in internment camps. A 16-year-old girl escapes her camp and joins a group of other teens on the run from the government.

Trailers

Directed by

Written by

  • Chad Hodge
  • (based on the novel of the same name by Alexandra Bracken)

Science Fiction, Thriller

104mins

Rating: M Violence

USA

Based on Alexandra Bracken’s YA novel, The Darkest Minds is set in a world where 90% of children have been wiped out. The fascist government rounds up the surviving youths, fearful because they all suddenly possess psychic abilities. Escaping a brutal internment camp, powerful 16-year-old Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) teams up with electricity-wielding Zu (an underutilised Miya Cech), uber-brainy comedy sidekick Chubs (Skylan Brooks), and telekinetic, charisma-free block of wood Liam (Harris Dickinson).

The super-charged quartet set off in search of a fabled sanctuary, after a rushed information-dump of a set-up, from a script not bothered with wasting time on character or world-building. A shame, as it’s a sci-fi story full of potential. Dashed with dollops of Divergent and extracts of X-Men, it’s a tale heavy on influences, but light on originality, with a villain obvious from the off. Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3 director Jennifer Yuh Nelson makes the transition from animated to live-action with some solid set-pieces, in a dystopian-light, teen-superhero tale, more reminiscent of Percy Jackson than The Dark Knight. Some lame humour, a dull romance, but none of the dark, socio-political underpinnings of The Hunger Games.

It’s great to see a multiracial cast front and centre, but a shame to see Bradley Whitford wasted in a minor role as President, and Gwendoline Christie briefly appear as a bounty hunter in a bad wig. Caught somewhere between silly and serious, The Darkest Minds is a generic, late entry in the Young Adult sci-fi genre, which takes itself way too seriously to be a comedy. Ultimately forgettable, under-developed, yet undoubtedly entertaining for early teens.

Hollywood Reporter

press

A by-the-numbers YA dystopia.

Variety (USA)

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Borrows nearly all its ingredients from other popular sci-fi franchises - from "X-Men" to "Stranger Things" - and doesn't much seem to mind if kids recognise how derivative it is...

Los Angeles Times

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You've seen this future before.

New York Times

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"The Darkest Minds" plays like a lightning round in which the goal is to hit as many teenage-dystopia tropes as possible.

Associated Press

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About five years and 15 movie dystopias too late to feel the least bit fresh or interesting.

Empire (UK)

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The Darkest Minds boasts a decent cast and a fairly interesting premise centred on likeable characters. But its banality squashes any potential it had, resulting in a safe, forgettable sci-fi.

The Guardian

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The pieces of a potential franchise are put in play here without stakes being raised or pulses quickened.

Vulture

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There's a lot that's confusing or poorly set up. That's a script problem, but also a lack of emotional direction and momentum.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

press

A depressingly formulaic collection of young adult fantasy movie tropes.