'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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You Are NOT Enough

We will never be enough, but God is always more than enough.

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Society and even the church seem to constantly encourage us with the saying "You are enough," and their intentions behind this statement are totally innocent. Something about this phrase has always bothered me, though, but I never understood why. In a sermon I heard one Wednesday night a week or so ago, the verses Proverbs 30:7-9 were used, and these verses stood out to me in a big way.

Proverbs 30:7-9

7 "Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the Lord?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

The speaker was specifically focusing on verses 7-8, but the Holy Spirit kept drawing me to verse 9, even days and weeks after. So I decided to dig into it. This verse focuses on Agur (the speaker in the passage) and his tendency to sin. When he asked God to provide "only [his] daily bread," and then when he continued on to speak about the specific sins he was afraid of committing, Agur was completely and wholly surrendering his struggles with temptation and sin to God, because Agur knew he couldn't do it on his own.

Aren't we all like Agur? Because we are human, we mess up all the time and fall into sin more than we would like to admit, and many times because of this, we fall into guilt and shame. This is because, on our own, we aren't enough. If we were enough on our own, we wouldn't sin. If we were enough on our own, we would be able to save ourselves. If we were enough on our own, we wouldn't need God. But none of those statements are true, are they? In fact, it is the exact opposite because God is enough, he calls us out of sin. Because God is enough, He sent Jesus to save us from our sin. Because God is enough, He is with us in every situation because we call to Him.

How do we know that we aren't enough? Because no one is!

Every human sins, even great heroes of faith. David, one of the most well-known biblical figures: the one who killed Goliath and one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ, said in Psalm 51:5--

Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

The beauty in realizing that you aren't enough on your own is that you don't have to be! Never in the Bible does God call us to be "enough!" He never expected us to be enough because it is impossible. God does call us to depend on Him, though. This is because God is ultimately more than enough. When we depend on God to help us keep away from sin and put in the work necessary to keep away from sin, it will be much easier. We will never be enough, but if we continuously search for our identity in worldly things and not Christ, we will be upset when we realize that we are not enough. Guess what, though, when we find our identity in what Christ says about us, we will find peace and hope because just like 2 Corinthians 12:9 says:

9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

God is the only one who is enough. When we depend on God for everything we will begin to see that HE is enough, and that's all we need.

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