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August 9, 2018

Darkest Mind (2018) --- “The Ones Who Changed Will Change Everything. If Your One Of Us, Come Find Us.”

Plot Summary
When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are seen as a threat by the government and sent to detainment camps. Sixteen-year-old Ruby soon escapes from her captors and joins other runaways who are seeking a safe haven. Banded together and on the run, they soon combine their collective powers to fight the adults who tried to take away their future. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     When I heard they were adapting Alexandra Bracken’s YA science-fiction thriller series The Darkest Minds, I knew that I had to read the books and I immediately fell in love with them. Book readers are always the toughest critics and most fail to give credit where it is due. Taking a 10-hr read into a 2-hr film is nothing short but tough and despite eliminating or changing a few minor details, the film was a great adaptation. In fact, The Darkest Minds (2018) is way more accurate than I expected which makes it one of the best adaptations that I have seen in a while, at least when it comes to having read the film’s source material.

     It feels like the YA adaptations train ride is coming to an end. First, it always a dystopian story involving teens/kids fighting for a cause greater than themselves, and the conflict (aliens, power, war, disease, etc.) is the only difference. Second, the timeline is usually set decades or even centuries into the future. And finally, there is a lot of comparison with other YA or similar films. But The Darkest Minds is different from films like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner.
     First, the conflict in The Darkest Minds is a disease and the resulting superpowers. Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (I.A.A.N) is a fatal disease affecting children between the ages of 8-13, age 10 is when the symptoms manifest, and there are only 2 possible outcomes; death or mutate. I.A.A.N ravages the USA and 98% of children die from the disease while the surviving 2% are left with 1 of 5 powers; Heightened Intelligence, Telekinesis, Electrokinetic, Pyrokinetic or Telepathy. As a result of surviving the disease, the children are declared a threat by the government and are detained in “rehabilitation camps” that treat the children like rabid dogs.
     Second, the story’s timeline is not set decades or even centuries into the future. In fact, the majority of the film takes place less than 10 years from our own present, which goes to show that we don’t have to go far into the future in order to develop a good storyline.
     And finally, most critics try to compare this film as being a Maze Runner and X-Men crossover film, the former because of the disease I.A.A.N and the latter because of the powers as a result of said disease. However, that is not the case and if you read the book or watch the film then you will know. Unlike disease in The Maze Runner, I.A.A.N does not turn people into zombies but instead, it kills swiftly with 98% fatality rating and you don’t know if someone is infected until they either die or survive past their 10th birthday. In contrast to X-Men, while the kids develop powers, the powers are limited to 1 of 5 categories with only a few variations within each of the categories. For example, two telepaths will attack and target a person’s brain in two different ways.
     In short, The Darkest Minds carries a similar tune that most YA films carry but there are some obvious differences with the story. The story was explained and developed well while still managing to be engaging and fun. In addition, audiences have been pushing for more diverse and inclusive films and The Darkest Minds does just that. The author is a woman, the director is a woman, and at least 3 of the main characters are POC. What more could people want? Perhaps more action? There were times when the pace felt rushed but what YA film doesn’t carry a similar sense of urgency. However, most people rated this film low because they were expecting a tone of action like other YA films. But this film is not meant to be very action pack, in fact, the book series is not overly action packed which allows time for great character development.

     I enjoyed the detailed back-stories of the characters because it gave audiences a chance to understand the characters in full. The characters in the film stay true to their book form and it was nice seeing them come to life as well as experience the bond between the main characters. Amandla Stenberg (Everything, Everything) is perfect as Ruby, Harris Dickinson (Trust) is adorably awkward as Liam, Miya Cech (American Horror Story) is cute as Suzume Zu, and Skylan Brooks (Southpaw) is funny as Chubs. While Mandy Moore  (This is Us), Patrick Gibson (The White Princess; OA) as Clancy Gray, Mark O'Brien (Halt and Catch Fire), Bradley Whitford (Get Out), and Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) are great in their respectful roles. I can’t wait for part 2 when we are introduced to even more characters, some of whom are vital to the rest of the story. I highly recommend this film.

"If you hear this, you’re one of us. If you’re one of us, you can find us."
 - Voice on radio

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  8 of 10 star
Worth Buying: 8 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
The 5th Wave (2016)
Aeon Flux (2005)
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
City of Ember (2008)
Darkest Mind (2018)
Divergent (2014)
Divergent: Insurgent (2015)
Divergent: Allegiant (2016)
Ender's Game (2013)
The Giver (2014)
The Hunger Games (2012)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)
I Am Number Four (2011)
In Time (2011)
The Island (2005)
Jumper (2008)
Maze Runner (2014)
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)
Maze Runner: Death Cure (2018)
Minority Report (2002)
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)
Surrogates (2009)
Vampire Academy (2014)

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