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MOVIE REVIEW

The Darkest Minds also known as “Mentes Sombrias,” “Mentes poderosas,” “Tamsiausios galios,” “Mentes Poderosas,” “Sötét elmék,” “Tmavá myseľ,” “Mentes Poderosas,” “Mentes poderosas,” “Minti primejdioase,” “Die Überlebenden,” “The Darkest Minds - Die Überlebenden,” “Mroczne umysły,” “Σκοτεινές δυνάμεις,” «Тъмна дарба», «Тёмные отражения»

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for violence including disturbing images, and thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Pamela Karpelenia
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Preteens
Genre:
Teen Dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller Adaptation IMAX
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
August 3, 2018 (wide—3,127 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
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Dramatic fantasies about very dark dystopian futures

Plagues / diseases / pandemics

Fictional psychic powers / dangerous and paranormal abilities

Fictional depiction of corrupt, tyrannical and cruel American government that aims to oppress, hurt and even murder children

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Imprisoning of children by sadistic and nefarious adults

Spiritual darkness versus light

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

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Cruelty and oppression / execution without a proper trial

Importance of mercy, compassion and empathy

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Revenge and brutal vengeance commited by young people / Is there a danger in depicting this as justified and a good choice by the heroine?

What does God say about seeking personal revenge and vengeance?

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Justified historical rebellions against oppression VERSUS unjustified and anarchistic rebellions fueled by sinful thoughts and actions

Some young teens feel like the world of adults is against them. Is it wise to stoke their fears and anger with a movie featuring an adult conspiracy against people their age?

This movie is primarily aimed at junior highschoolers and older teens—a group that often experiences a rebellious phase in life with bouts of anger and raging hormones. Is there a danger here? Could this film be used in further influencing young people by means of an emotional drama and a heroine with which kids can identify? To what possible end?

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Given the signs of our times, could it ultimately be to distrust and break free from parents and the establishment (government, police, church, etc.) and to embrace a social rebellion promoting a post-modern liberal agenda? The popular causes of our day are pro-atheism, anti-Christian, pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQIA, pro-Feminism, extreme environmentalism, pro-Globalism, etc.

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TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Featuring: Amandla Stenberg … Ruby Daly—a 16-year-old girl with superhuman abilities
Mandy MooreDr. Cate Connor—a doctor and member of a fight against the government
Gwendoline Christie … Lady Jane—a bounty hunter
Bradley Whitford … President Gray—Clancy’s father
Harris Dickinson … Liam
Mark O'Brien … Rob Meadows
Wade Williams … The Captain
Wallace Langham … Dr. Viceroy
Patrick Gibson … Clancy Gray—President’s son
Golden Brooks … Molly Daly—Ruby’s mother, Paul’s wife
Skylan Brooks … Chubs
See all »
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson—“Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Kung Fu Panda 3
Producer: 21 Laps Entertainment
Dan Cohen
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Fox. Trademark logo.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“The only ones that can help us is US.”

This movie is an adaptation of the first book of the popular DARKEST MINDS young adult fantasy trilogy by author Alexandra Bracken—The Darkest Minds (2012), Never Fade (2013), In The Afterlight (2014). The books were published by Disney Publishing Worldwide (Disney-Hyperion imprint).

“The Darkest Minds” opens with a female narrator explaining how it all started. She sees her friend have what appears to be a seizure and pass out. She goes on to learn that there is a new disease that effects only children, and they exhibit strange unexplained behaviors before dying. Ruby Daly (narrator) arrives home to celebrate her 10 birthday with her obviously worried parents. After receiving a small token from her parents. Ruby sneaks into her parents’ bedroom to comfort them while they sleep. She touches their hand gets a shocking unclear vision, and her eyes glow bright orange.

The next morning she wakes to parents who do not recognize her and instead call the government on her to have her taken away. Ruby quickly learns the extent of the pandemic. All children that survive are rounded up and taken to concentration camps (“rehabilitation camps”) where their abilities are assessed and categorized. Green (super intelligence), Yellow (the ability to manipulate and control electricity), Blue (telekinesis)—and these abilities are considered relatively safe. There are 2 other types of abilities Orange (mind control), Red (projectile combustion). These later two groups are considered the most dangerous, and those chilcren are to be killed upon discovery. Ruby is now on unfamiliar territory and must navigate her own survival. This is the tired overwrought setup of a repetitive genre.

The acting feels stale and boring. There are no standout performances. As I watched, I felt like I’d seen this story before. There is the dystopian view of society and children being our last and only hope for survival. There is the strong female protagonist, such as has been played several times over during the past decade—with few defining differences. This film had potential to be a great stand-alone movie, but, instead of developing characters, it seems like a lame attempt to set up viewers for a trilogy franchise.

Content of Concern

Language: One character is frequently foul-mouthed—swearing throughout the film. This seemed to me completely unnecessary and reeks of lazy writing.

Nudity and Sexuality: There is a scene where the lead character is shown covered only by a towel. There is a potential forced sexual act by a villain against a teenaged girl, brief cleavage and teen kissing.

The film deals with a few rising up against an oppressive and corrupt government, using their power to turn others to the truth—even risking their own lives to do so. Well this message is simple for Christians to decipher. Christians views are few in this world and are constantly facing opposition, and we have the truth to provide in love—knowledge of the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ, and it’s our job to share that with people, despite its unpopularity or what may happen to us. You may have the opportunity to simply share a Bible verse in post on social media or in some other way to stand up against the corrupt worldview of relative truths and moralities. Let God’s Word lead us to share the truth of our faith.

If you like repetitive teen-drama dystopian fantasy, you might enjoy something in this movie, but if you’re tired of the repetitive nature of this genre and unnecessary swearing and poor execution, then I recommend you skip this rather disturbing movie.

  • Violence: Heavy—includes medical experiments on teens involving pain and big syringes, guard forced to shoot herself under her chin, various forms of brutality and gun fire against teens, bounty hunter violence against teens, fiery attack on children in a tent camp, shipping container thrown at “Red” children, various deaths, forced helicopter crash (apparently fatal), car chase and crash, physical blows, and convulsions / Bruises, cuts, abrasions, burn marks are evident and some bloodiness—but not much.
  • Profane language: Heavy—“Oh J*sus,” “J*sus,” “Oh my G*d” (2), My G*d (2), Oh G*d (2), h*ll (3—including “Go to h*ll”), d*mn (2)
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderately Heavy—“Open the frickin’ door,” s-words (6+ including “bullsh*t,” “You gotta be sh*tting me,” “Dip-sh*t” and “Oh sh*t”), “Piss off,” “a**hole (4), “a**” (4), “sucks”
  • Sex: Moderate
  • Nudity: Mild
  • Occult: Mild—Psychic powers, paranormal abilities, thought control, telekinesis—although apparently attributed to evolutionary viral mutations (which of course is a fantasy), rather than supernatural causes

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Secular Movie Critics
…“The Darkest Minds” is smart. It has a lot to convey to its young audience, and the strong cast does everything in their power to illustrate those themes and to bring their characters to earnest, believable life. …it plays a bit more like a manifesto than a sci-fi thriller…
William Bibbiani, The Wrap
…plays like a lightning round in which the goal is to hit as many teenage-dystopia tropes as possible. A virus has swept the globe (“The Maze Runner”), wiping out most of the planet’s young people, but the survivors develop special powers (“X-Men”) that cause their eyes to glow (“Twilight”) and get them classified as threats to the state (“X-Men” again)…
Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
…soft-pedals the most disturbing ideas in such a way that young audiences won’t be overwhelmed with gloom, instead inviting them to identify with the film’s empowered female heroine as she struggles to overcome her crippling lack of self-confidence and embrace what makes her special…
Peter Debruge, Variety
…hodgepodge… The story is not only derivative of so many other dystopias and kids with power sagas, but, and perhaps worst of all, it never even really gets going—a clear and infuriating set up for some future installment…
Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
…The movie is 105 minutes long but seems about 45 minutes longer, with uneventful stretches and at least three sections where the action stops for musical interludes featuring goopy pop music…
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
…The storytelling is bald and the logistics remain vague. The adult characters, especially a sadistic prison guard, are laughably overblown and the simplistic dialogue betrays the script’s YA roots… [2½/4]
Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
…Young moviegoers who haven’t yet tired of cookie-cutter dystopias will find a sympathetic protagonist… but viewers who’ve taken this ride enough times to want, for instance, subtext addressing real-world oppression should look elsewhere…
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
…There is no resolution for any of the story lines haphazardly dangling like electrical wires. No villain is defeated, no secrets are explained. When the credits roll, there has been no catharsis for the 90 minutes of movie preceding it, which makes it all feel like a protracted introductory sequence for a sequel that, god willing, will never come…
Dana Schwartz, Entertainment Weekly