Ramble Review: The Darkest Minds

Another Attempt


Taylor Aguilera, Staff Writer

The Darkest Minds: another movie based on a young adult book of the same name. It was another studio’s attempt at a trend that has sadly died out, but could this be an exception in reviving the trend? It’s hard to say when you already got such powerful book to movie adaptations out of the YA genre, such as the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games trilogy and the Twilight Saga. All these had a full go through and brought in fairly big bucks, especially Harry Potter. With these movies to compare to, it’s hard to like a sub par adaptation at best, although I don’t know if subpar is the right term for The Darkest Minds. Not to mention when you get something wrong or change it in the movie, fans aren’t too pleased. The most recent one to finish its run on the big screen was The Maze Runner series, which still struggled getting the last movie out.

For a person who read the book and then watched the movie, I have to say that I was pretty satisfied with it. Sure, it didn’t compare to accuracy of The Hunger Games movies, but I did enjoy it. I have seen the movie twice now and I still thought it was a fun movie. I liked it so much I rate it 8/10 stars.

In an America not so different from today,a virus of some sort that wipes out about 90% of the population of kids in the U.S. With the remaining 10% developing psychic powers, they are put into camps in order to “cure” them. This act is done by the government and not much of the outside world knows about what really happens in the camps. We follow our main character Ruby as she escapes a camp and treds the outside world for the first time in over six years after her tenth birthday. She meets some friends along the way named Liam, Chubs and Zu. The group set out to find a camp called East River, a camp where kids can be free. That’s as much as I can say without giving away spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the books, I would recommend at least reading the books. From here on out I will be sharing spoilers on the movie and the book.

Something that captured my attention originally was the science fiction aspect of the story. Kids having powers sounds epic, something I would like to be able to relate to. I also like the way they categorize the abilities by colors on a scale from green to orange, with orange being the most dangerous out of colors. Greens have the ability of enhanced intelligence. Blues have telekinesis, and they are the second least dangerous. Yellows or golds have electrokinesis. Red equals pyrokinesis. Orange is the most dangerous because they control people’s minds.

Most of the changes to me aren’t that important, but the change of the pacing from the book to the movie was disappointing. Big parts of the book that I enjoyed were the road trip aspect and the family aspect. With the movie coming in at a running time of 1hr 45mins, they really couldn’t pull that off. It was something that I also found unique about the book. The whole family aspect luckily wasn’t left out, and there were indeed parts that made me feel happy. In the book we got to grow attached to the characters, but this one we only got a little time. I still think that a runtime of over two hours would made the movie better in so many aspects.

The slow pacing is important for the end of the book where Chubs, a character that you have grown to really care about, gets shot and you are left without knowing what happens to Chubs. Another part that was affected by the story was the romance, something I am normally not a big fan of. Alexandra Bracken (the author) pulled this off so well in the book by not forcing the romance onto you like most young adult books, letting you grow to appreciate the relationships between Liam and Ruby, and even the other characters like Zu or Chubs. With the movie it felt like a forced romance.

A great performance was done by actor Skylan Brooks in bringing Chubs to life. The whole cast I think did a great job including the big stars in the movie: Mandy Moore from This Is Us, Gwendoline Christie from The Game of Thrones, and Bradley Whitford from Cabin In the Woods.

The star power, though, is under used as they play only minor characters to the plot. The younger actors did a great job, but the only one that is all that recognizable is the one that is known for playing Rue from The Hunger Games, Amandla Stenberg. This isn’t something that is really going to help compel audiences to go see the movie.

Another problem The Darkest Minds is facing is the advertisement that they used. While it was a clever attempt to put their ads on Youtube, Snapchat and various other social media platfroms in order to appeal to teen and young adult audiences, it was a somewhat feeble attempt, as you are able to skip ads on these platforms. They also had short ads to try to sell to a generation that has shorter attention spans.  I am thinking this may be the reasoning for the pacing too. The ratings for the movie aren’t all that great on Rotten Tomatoes with an 18%, and it’s doing mediocre on IMDb with a 5.5/10. From what I can see, The Darkest Minds isn’t an exception to this dying trend of YA. The opinions on ratings though are divided: fans seem to like the movie, while critics and non-book fans seem to have no majority of opinions.

Going back to my point about the ad campaign not doing all that well, I went to the theaters and when going I didn’t see many people there.  I don’t know if this is a big problem though, as the budget isn’t that high. Only running on 34 million U.S dollars, it won’t need to have all that much in return. This is important because if the movie make enough money we could be seeing a sequel.

The biggest differences come in the final act. In the book, the final act is more panned out and I feel like it has more of an emotional impact than the movie’s ending. The movie’s end is shorter and I would have like to have ended a little differently, though the final battle scene at the end was much more explosive than the book’s. These changes in the final part don’t matter all that much though, as it all ends up coming to the same conclusion.

I have to talk about the scenes not involving Ruby, as the book is from Ruby’s point of view. As much as I love Ruby, I think this was a great difference from the novels. The Hunger Games franchise did something similar to this, and this lets them flesh out their villains.

Overall, the movie was a blast to watch, and I enjoyed seeing one of my favorite books coming to life on the big screen. I think that for Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s 3rd movie, first live action movie and first book adaptation, she did pretty well. I am still unsure on where this movie stands in terms of getting its  sequel. I would like to see the movie get a run at the big screen, but fans will just have to wait and see.