With ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘The Maze Runner’ film series finally having played out there’s a definite young adult gap in the current cinematic climate. We’ll certainly not hold our breath for that final installment of the ‘Divergent’ series but is this gap even one that needs filling? Apparently 20th Century Fox think so as their latest film ‘The Darkest Minds’ is the newest addition to a now tired genre. Adapted from Alexandra Bracken’s novel of the same name could it offer anything new, or even just entertaining?
The narrative follows the same basic young adult formula; widespread disastrous event plus characters divided into groups based on some characteristic or quality multiplied by a gang of adolescents rebelling against the established order equaling the same shit but in a different universe. Despite this, one thing the film does well is getting the lead up to this narrative formula over and done with quickly. The context to the main story is dealt with quite succinctly and thankfully not drawn out however the problems begin to arise when next to nothing else happens in the film. There is little to drive this narrative forward and anytime it does gain any momentum it’s quickly brought to a halt when plot threads are rounded up too soon leaving little for both characters and audiences to do. As a result the film feels much longer than it is and boredom is a serious risk for all viewers. Furthermore, the story doesn’t even make a lot of sense. There are numerous plot holes, it’s predictable and cliched. A lot of films in this genre are the same but at least they are entertaining so can get away with it. Here, not so much.
These types of movies are known for being cringey, and a certain amount of that should be expected. Although nothing will prepare you for what is probably the cheesiest moment you may have seen in this entire genre featured here. The cast really struggle with their roles due to this and just the generally poor quality of material they have to work with. Of the main performers it’s only really Skylan Brooks (Chubs) who comes across positively – his character mainly acts as the comic relief for the narrative and he does so well amongst the sickening sop that the rest of the script offers up. Bradley Whitford appears early on as President Gray which gave me some hope but don’t let his presence fool you. He plays a nothing role maybe only being in one other scene in the entire film, oh and the less said about Gwendoline Christie’s character the better. Cast and characters aside another problem was the soundtrack. The cheery, upbeat teen pop vibe just doesn’t go with the dystopian future this narrative is set in further complicating the already confused tone thanks to the ridiculous romance plot thread weaved throughout.
Therefore this ‘X-Men’/’Divergent’ mash-up really fails to deliver on almost all aspects of itself. The overall story is so dull and unoriginal that it needed to either have amazing action sequences or lovable characters to keep audiences entertained and unfortunately ‘The Darkest Minds’ has neither. With two other books in Bracken’s series there’s obvious plans to create a franchise but unless her fans come out in force there’s no way these novels will be adapted, here’s hoping for cinema audiences everywhere that they don’t!
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 3/10
Question: What is your favourite Young Adult film series?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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Thanks to Movie House Cinemas for screening access