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The Darkest Minds Movie Review

Teen power threatens adult authority.

Reviewed by on Aug 03, 2018
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Will you check out the teen sci-fi thriller The Darkest Minds? What if teens had super powers and adults were afraid of them? Check out Kidzworld’s review of the film based on a best-selling novel.

By: Lynn Barker

In The Darkest Minds, based upon the novel by Alexandra Bracken, 16-year-old Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg) and a small number of young people have survived a horrible pandemic illness and been left with super powers. Ruby’s are some of the most powerful. The government and all adults are afraid of these super teens so they are locked away in detention camps. Ruby escapes and joins a group of other runaways  hoping to find solace with others like them. They learn they must form a resistance and use their collective powers to forge a future.

Ruby teams up with others like herRuby teams up with others like herCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Young Ruby

Young Ruby Daly saw a child in her class fall to the floor and die after causing a kind of telekinetic “shake” at school. We learn that a pandemic called IAAN killed 98% of children under age twenty. Those left suddenly developed amazing powers. On her 10th birthday, Ruby gets her powers, touches her mom and accidentally erases herself from mom’s memory. Frightened, Mom calls the authorities and Ruby is taken away to a horrible internment camp for kids with powers. When she is 16, Ruby is tested and is an “Orange”, the highest, most dangerous and feared power group.

Ruby revs up her powersRuby revs up her powersCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Deception and Escape

Ruby uses her powers to control minds to convince the doctor labeling her that she is a smart, harmless “Green”. On her side is Dr. Cate Connor (Mandy Moore) who is secretly part of a movement against the government and its camps. When it is discovered that Ruby is really an “Orange”, she will be killed. Cate smuggles her out of camp and gives her a tracking device to activate if she ever needs help. She is expected to stay with Cate’s group and use her powers to fight a war. Ruby encounters tween girl Zu (Maya Cech) who can zap things with electricity. They escape in a van driven by young Liam (Harris Dickenson) with friend Chubs (Skylan Brooks).

Dr. Cate will help Ruby escapeDr. Cate will help Ruby escapeCourtesy of 20th Century Fox


The new super-powered friends are chased and shot at by bounty hunter Lady Jane (Gwendoline Christie) and Liam, whose power is telekinesis, realizes that, although she says she is a “Green” like Chubs, Ruby must be very powerful. The group searches for a camp called East River where those like them are supposed to be safe. Liam says “The League”, the resistance to whom Cate belongs, are not what they seem. They are making teens into soldiers. He was in it and left so they don’t trust him. Through touching Zu, Ruby is able to “see” that she and many others were rescued and freed from their camp by Liam who is a kind of hero. Ruby and Liam have a definite attraction.

Liam would love to hook up with RubyLiam would love to hook up with RubyCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

At the Mall

While cruising an abandoned mall for supplies, the group is levitated and attacked by four other teens who hide there. By touching one of the new kids, Ruby is able to get the initials EDO, a clue to the location of the East River camp. With Chubs, Ruby is able to figure out that EDO translates into a radio frequency that is broadcast by the camp. Before following it to the camp, the new friends take Ruby back home as she wishes but seeing that her parents will still not know her and will probably turn her in, she tearfully stays with her new “family”. She and Liam grow more in love but Ruby is afraid to touch him.

The group at the mallThe group at the mallCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Lady Jane and Clancy

The group knows Ruby is actually a powerful “Orange” when she stops Lady Jane from capturing Liam and makes her drop her gun and just walk off into the woods. They are fine with it. The friends find the camp where many other powerful teens seem to be living in peace. Head of the camp turns out to be Clancy Gray (Patrick Gibson), son of the U.S President who is supposed to have been “cured” of his powers. He is also an “Orange” like Ruby. They are the last. Ruby and Liam get closer, hug and dance. Clancy seems jealous.

Ruby has to learn to protect herselfRuby has to learn to protect herselfCourtesy of 20th Century Fox


Clancy is supposedly helping Ruby control her powers but he secretly wants to learn how she controls minds. Chubs thinks the camp is more negative than positive. Clancy makes an unwanted move on Ruby. She slaps him and runs away. Liam wants to kill him. After an argument over Clancy, the group makes up and wants to leave. Can they? Is the camp really safe? Is Clancy just a leader who likes and wants Ruby by his side or is he working with forces that want to control kids with powers? Will Cate rescue the kids or can she be trusted?

Ruby and her friends want to escape the new campRuby and her friends want to escape the new campCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Wrapping Up

The Darkest Minds is a well-acted dystopian teen tale but hardly original. Yes, it would be both empowering and confusing for teens to suddenly have super powers that so frightened their parents that they wanted to lock them away but the whole premise of teens with superpowers who are shunned by the government and adult populace is the young X-Men premise. Ruby’s power of “suggestion” reminds one of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film using the Force to convince weak-minded guards that “These are not the droids you’re looking for”.

The cast goofs offThe cast goofs offCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

There are a few illogical scenes in the story in which a big problem could be solved by Ruby’s powers but she doesn’t use them, even after she ceases to hide them. A sad turn in the story could be avoided if she had just made a mental “suggestion” to solve the problem. A relationship is built throughout the movie and seemingly discarded too easily. 

Ruby embraces her powersRuby embraces her powersCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Even as a set-up for more movies, The Darkest Minds should at least be more complete with less plot threads left hanging!  The result is emotionally unsatisfying. Ruby is a strong leader but she’s no Katniss Everdeen and this tale doesn’t have the impact or tight plot of The Hunger Games. We can only go three stars.

The Darkest Minds Movie Rating: 3

The Darkest Minds Movie PosterCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

See The Darkest Minds in theaters now!


Have Your Say

Do you think the whole Young Adult bleak future movie fad is over? Have you read the novels on which the film is based? Talk teen power vs. adult tyranny with a comment below.