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The Darkest of Minds Review - Engaging Entertainment from Director Jennifer Yun Nelson

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The Darkest Minds, from 20th Century Fox, presents the story of life after catastrophe for a group of teens who survive a mystery plague that kills the majority of adolescents and leaves the others with superpowers.

Directed by Kung Fu Panda 2 virtuoso Jennifer Yun Nelson, The Darkest Minds star Bradley Whitford, Mandy Cate, Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Miya Cech, Skylan Brooks, Lydya Jewett, Patrick Gibson, Gwendoline Christie, Mark O’Brien, Wallace Langham, Wade Williams, Golden Brooks, Sammi Rotibi and Grace DeAmicis as Grace. Based on the novel by Alexandra Bracken and written for the screen by Chad Hodge.


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The Darkest Minds begins at lunch in a primary school, tables of children eating packed lunches, when the camera settles on one child, Grace, played by Grace DeAmicis, who appears to be having a seizure, Her hands begin to violently shake. A second child, Ruby Daly, played at this age by Lidya Jewett, begins to ask her if she is okay when the shaking escalates and in one moves she crushes a steel cap of a thermos, her eyes turn glowing red and she falls to the floor. She is dead.

The voice over, of an older Ruby, played by Amanda Stenberg, explains at that time she had no idea what was happening and in one moth nearly half her class would be dead. Filling in the story are news reports of a mysterious disease that is killing the world’s youth and in a few short months nearly all children and teens have died. The 2% that remain are shipped to internment camps where they are subject to violence, abuse and used for slave labor.

While the children are dying in unprecedented numbers caused by a mysterious and deadly, highly contagious and symptomless disease the world with its advances remains. No cataclysmic nuclear detonation has occurred leaving the world struggling through a nuclear winter, the days, times, seasons remain constant.

Ruby Daly, our lunch room girl, was captured, and during the intake at the camps the hierarchy of immunes are presented, a pyramid of colors, which determine the work assignment and segregated unit.

Green, the majority or survivors who are simply immune and considered safe. Blues have the power to emit electricity and are considered ”live.” Yellows have the power to move objects, of any size. Orange and Reds were considered threat to society at large and ordered to be killed.

Ruby during in her intake was determined to be an Orange and her termination ordered. Through her telekinesis she transfers her thoughts and words to the subject which influences them to terminate their own course of action and adopt hers.

Six years later we find that no cure has been found and Ruby has been able to hide her status. She is constantly scrutinized has her powers are noticeable. Soon, a member of the league, and underground resistance group of adults led by Cate, played by Mandy Moore, infiltrate the internment camp looking for influencers.

With the intent to spring Ruby, Cate works out a plan, and Ruby escapes. Just wanting to go home, she explains as Cate is driving she just wants to go home. Her new life as an underground fugitive requires the change of vehicles and clothing.

After Ruby’s great escape this is where the film moves into a teen film, albeit fused with superpowers and strange surroundings. If there has been one escape than many have escape and our girl Ruby stumbles on her new family.

As the story unfolds loyalties are questioned, motives revealed, and the chances for new lives are short lived. Two sets of adults emerge those who engage the resistors and those who attempt to destroy them. Fear it appears is the greatest motivator.


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As a disaster, fantasy film The Darkest Minds hits all the right notes. Director Jennifer Yun Nelson creates the sympathy card from the beginning panning a cafeteria of harmless children subject to a dreadful and deadly disease. Their innocence stolen.

The Darkest Minds, a live action fantasy disaster flick, along the lines of early X-Men Meet the  Mutants films, captures the attention from the first scenes and is thoroughly engaging. Absorbing, the Darkest of Minds captivates.

The solid cast is supported by a group of relativity new talents, Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Miya Cech, Skylan Brooks and Patrick Gibson, who portrays Clancy Gray who deliver break out performances, presenting the fantastical as authentic.

The Darkest of Minds, an intriguing, solid, fast action film, from Director Jennifer Yun Nelson, opens August 3, 2018.

 

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