I’m just going to copy and paste my synopsis from my book review. What’s the point of doing it differently, you know? By the time Ruby was ten, boy, it would be tremendously hard to think up a worse way to live. She's lost everything; all of the friends she's ever grown up with in her neighbourhood or classes are dead, because of a virus that has wiped out almost every kid between around 8 and 15. And those that have survived aren't much better off. Abilities, and very sinister ones at that, appear to have taken the forms of the survivors of the epidemic, and as a result, the government has closed off America from the rest of the world and placed these children in so-called evaluation camps, where every class had their genders separated, and every kid, based on their ability, is colour coded, with all colours of the rainbow except purple. Yellows, Greens and Blues soon end up the only ones left, because all the Reds and Oranges are taken away.The thing is, Ruby is pretty sure she's one of the dangerous ones. Actually, as the years pass by in this concentration camp (because an internment camp is where people who have been convicted of doing something wrong go) Ruby begins to lose hope on anything ever going right - until it does with some outside help - and with her newfound freedom, something she waited years for knowing the last time it happened she had one chance and didn't take it, she's nibbling off her fingers trying to find what will earn her life back. Or if there's a new and even more dangerous one all ready for her.
I just recently spent two weeks reading the book version to prepare myself for this movie. When I was a little child, I wasn’t interested in stories. I was just impatient. But now I completely understand the desire to read the book first before the movie. However, in this particular case, there’s a problem. I mean, yes, if you read the book before watching the movie version, you’ll expect a few things. You’ll even likely know exactly how it’s supposed to end, and who’s going to die because of what. But this is a case where it won’t matter if you read the book first, or vice versa. Because like the last Hunger Games film, this movie doesn’t manage to have any identity of its own apart from its novel counterpart. If this film was the book’s kid, that kid would be growing up with what is called false consciousness. I’m learning about it.
Here’s another thing. I gave The Darkest Minds a deservant three stars out of four, even though it really wasn’t that original by the standards of 2018, and not that much better back in 2012 when it was published. I gave it that grade because it still managed to display a humane sense of feelings, and the long length of the book works in the story’s favour, because we can feel the adventure and developing feelings with a similar sense as the characters. Here it’s just a rehash with all the important plotpoints there, step by step. And I really didn’t want that, especially since the last movie based on a young adult book I watched (excluding The House With a Clock in its Walls) deviated from the counterpart so much, that I had no idea who was going to survive and if all would be forgiven, and I loved every minute of it.
Listen, the actors are perfect choices. Even if Harris Dickinson seems very similar to Nick Robinson, I think that works in the movie’s favour. Skylan Brooks had a big job to do playing the cynical yet intimately kindhearted Chubs, and he never stutters the performance. Miya Cech is simply precious as Zu and Amandla Stenberg allows us to explore Ruby’s mind and think about her every time she graces the screen. Mandy Moore as Cate is also pretty likeable. Oh yeah, and Liam mentions an old friend of his named Carter Jenkins. Thing is, Carter Jenkins is a real guy, star of one of my favourite family films, Aliens in the Attic. Hee hee.
What I also liked were most of the scenes that take place while the characters are moving fast, whether running, driving or getting blown away by an explosion. They’re fun and acceptable. There was also something in the book about a tragic mistake Ruby makes that’s emphasized better in the movie. (Spoilers: She didn’t want her parents to worry about her with all the other kids dying, and she wasn’t aware of her powers, and as a result ended up erasing herself so they wouldn’t have to worry, with the side effect of forgetting they were ever her daughter. I didn’t know that’s what happened.) And the other instances that get very dramatic are terrifically done. I loved the scene where the gang of four are having fun at an abandoned mall, with old “Entire Store Closing” signs on it and everything, with a decent enough fight shortly after involving crazy telekinesis. And I did feel very bad for Ruby during a sad scene where very tough realizations catch up with her.
But back to a few other things. I think one of my main reasons for my harsh grade is a scene near the climax that just annoys me. There’s a twist that is foreshadowed right in front of our eyes. It couldn’t be more obvious if we were eating it for lunch, and the movie just doesn’t care. Think of all the ways the movie could’ve instead given a snippet of the idea, or a hint, then remind us just as disaster falls. Nope. They took the easy way…
If anything, this movie reminds me of The 5th Wave movie. It came out back in January of 2016, and I gave it an A. In numerical terms, that’s a 9 out of 10. So why is this movie a C-, which is a grade of 3? Well, I read The 5th Wave book first, and it diabolically disappointed me. There was confusion, boredom, slowness, and despite the apocalypse no real sense of humanity. But the movie fixed that, changing the story and script more than enough to let us feel the heartbreak and fear while still getting surprised at certain angles. This one was basically a carbon copy, except everything’s wrapped up faster, we know how everything’s going to go, and the derivativeness of the story begins to reek very quickly.
Goodnight, Darkest Minds. Gotta go.