Dystopian film ensnares audiences

Graphic by Marissa Arnold

From start to finish, “The Darkest Minds” knows how to push all the audience’s buttons. Viewers are swept up in the emotions of the characters, from joy to anxiety.

All children in the United States develop a mysterious disease, and the 10% that survive develop extraordinary psychic powers. The protagonist is Ruby Daly, played by Amandla Stenberg (“The Hunger Games,” 2012, “Everything, Everything,” 2017) a survivor who now seeks freedom.

After escaping her camp and the Children’s League, another group seeking survivors, she meets Liam, played by Harris Dickinson (“Beach Rats,” 2017, “Postcards from London,” 2017). Together, Ruby, Liam, and Liam’s friends search for a safe place to hide and call home.

“The Darkest Minds” builds the relationships between characters extremely effectively, with everyone having complex emotions and feelings for each other. One ends up not knowing whose side to be on when disagreements emerge, which helps add to the experience of the group dynamics.

The story also takes care to save itself from falling into the dystopian pitfall of becoming needlessly dark. The characters’ friendships, and their ability to take control of situations with their powers, keep it from becoming depressing, necessary with the painful to watch military scenes.

From a technical lens, the movie also is a success. The actors are believable in their performance, and the special effects are very simple, but also very effective.

The only real gripes with the movie are small details. The issue that stands out the most is Ruby’s powers becoming easier to control only when the plot demands it.

Despite this, “The Darkest Minds” holds its own as a deeply engaging movie on all fronts. The characters and the world they inhabited are well constructed and enjoyable to watch, and moviegoers are kept interested the whole way through.

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