'The Darkest Minds' (Review)

'The Darkest Minds' (Review)

The Darkest Minds from director Jennifer Yuh Nelson is a mindless mess.

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Based on the YA book of the same name by Alexandra Bracken, "The Darkest Minds" is a film that comes ten years too late. Maybe the aim was to revive the genre, but this Fox studio knock-off of X-Men is creatively bankrupt. Tropey and cliche isn't always an issue if the content is entertaining, but this movie is one of the slowest, poorly written films to exist among YA cinema.

Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg) is a telepath (think a much less powerful Emma Frost) living in a dystopian America. Her powers come from the idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration or IAAN, a virus that decimated the country's child population. As a survivor of the virus, Ruby hides her abilities to avoid being killed by the government as she's deemed too dangerous to live. Other survivors with talents are color-coded and divided by sects (a theme from the "Divergent" series). Greens are for the hyper-intellectuals, blue is for those with telekinesis, yellows can manipulate electricity, red is for fire breathers, and those branded orange can control people by hijacking their thoughts and actions.

Once Ruby is broken out of confinement by the League of Children lead by Dr. Cate Connor (Mandy Moore) she meets a green name Chubs (Skylan Brooks), Zu (Mya Cech), a yellow, and Liam (Harris Dickinson), a blue. The foursome embarks on a journey to find a youth utopia called "EoD" where they'll join others just like them (think "Logan" or the Freeform television show "The Runaways.") On the way to EoD, they encounter Lady Jane (Gwendoline Christie), a bounty hunter out to capture teens for reward money. There's no rhyme or reason for the character to exist as the film never explains where she comes from. With such a phoned in performance, its clear Gwendoline Christie is in this for a quick paycheck. In fact, greed is probably why this movie was made. It's evident the studio is looking to make a profit from a potential franchise than actually caring about adapting the material properly. If anyone except Amandla Stenberg cared about what they were doing, maybe "The Darkest Minds" would be a tolerable watch.

In a story like this, the real villain is the writing. Writer Chad Hodge ("Wayward Pines") crams in so much exposition that it's hard to keep up with all the details as the story invokes so many questions that never get answered. What are these mutants teens suppose to represent? Evolution? Environmental changes? What are audiences supposed to glean from the narrative? What is supposed to be happening here?!

Themes like the separation of families and a future without children are eerily timely for our current reality and worth exploring. However, the desperation, grief, and trauma experienced by these teens isn't examined. Instead, the story makes room for an unrealistic love triangle filled with heightened bits of toxic masculinity where no one cares what Ruby wants.

While YA might be passé at the movies, that doesn't mean there is no room for change. The current movie-going audience is smarter and demands more of its stories. Writers can't continue to be this lazy and expect success at the box office.

But of course, the conclusion hints at a potential sequel because all films must be a backdoor for a cash-cow franchise these days. It's possible the sequel will answer the questions viewers need answers to but will anyone give a crap by then? Maybe reading the book will provide much-needed insight. That is unless the source material is part of the problem.

Rating: 4/10




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10 Country Songs To Add To Your Summer Playlist, Even If You 'Hate Country'

Even my friends who claim to hate country music agree that these are some bops.

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From late night drives around town to county fairs, beach trips, and amusement parks, we are constantly on the road in the summer. Here's a list of some of my select country favorites on my current summer playlist.

1. "Wasted Time" (Keith Urban)

This song just screams summer. Keith Urban sings about his favorite summer memories with a catchy beat.

2. "Toes" (Zac Brown Band)

There's just something about "Toes" that makes it a feel-good song no matter when you listen to it.

3. "Knee Deep" (Zac Brown Band)

"Knee Deep" features Jimmy Buffett, who literally created Margaritaville. If that doesn't put you in a feel-good summer mood, I don't know what will.

4. "Record Year" (Eric Church)

It may be past New Years, but there's still time to make this a record year.

5. "Wagon Wheel" (Darius Rucker)

This one may be a throwback, but it will never get old. Rucker seems to bring out everyone's inner performer.

6. "Somewhere On A Beach" (Dierks Bentley)

I'm sure we're all wishing we were somewhere on a beach right about now.

7. "Pickin' Wildflowers" (Keith Anderson)

This is one of my favorites for sure. Whenever this comes on in the car, it's hard not to sing along.

8. "Rain Is A Good Thing" (Luke Bryan)

Luke Bryan has always been a summer soundtrack favorite, even in his earliest days with "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)."

9. "Kick The Dust Up" (Luke Bryan)

Another hit by Luke. This one is perfect for the car ride to the county fair.

10. "Anything Goes" (Florida Georgia Line)

FGL is on fire almost all of the time, and this hit is a prime example that "anything goes on a Friday night."

Country music might not be for everyone, but I know my summer playlist is full of country's hottest hits.

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