The Darkest Minds
Ruby and her team of teenagers are on the run from the government after mysteriously developing Jedi-like superpowers.
Based on Alexandra Bracken's popular 2012 novel of the same name, The Darkest Minds attempts to catapult the author's group of gifted teenagers onto the big screen and position itself within the crowded genre of young adult fiction.
Set in a near-future where 98 per cent of America's child population has been wiped out by an unexplained pandemic, the survivors, now mysteriously endowed with a range of psychic and superhuman powers, are declared a threat by the government and marched off to detainment camps, where they're bandied into colour groups and forced to carry out menial tasks in a bid to suppress their abilities.
The film's heroine, Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg), is quickly discovered to be an 'orange', meaning she possesses some of the strongest and most influential powers, and must make an early escape from her camp with the help of an anti-government doctor Cate Connor (Mandy Moore) in order to flee death.
On the run, and unsure of who she can trust, she meets love interest Liam (Harris Dickinson), Chubs (Skylan Brooks) and Zu (Miya Cech) - and the foursome set out on a quest to find what is believed to be the only remaining safe-haven for teenagers: East River camp, led by the mysterious Clancy Gray (Patrick Gibson).
The journey throws up various challenges as the teens are forced to fight off a vicious bounty hunter known as Lady Jane (Gwendoline Christie), work to control their wild powers and, of course, navigate their way through the murky waters of teenage love.
It's fair to say that the film does little to differentiate itself in the popular field of young adult adaptations and there is certainly little originality in the film's superpower storyline.
Certain scenes, for instance, could have been taken directly out of Stranger Things, while the concept of young adults attempting to overthrow a hard-line government in a dystopian, broken world is hardly a unique idea (The Hunger Games, we're looking at you).
The film also struggles with direction and does, at times, feel like a very "and then" movie, with certain subplots, including that of the bounty hunter, requiring slightly more attention in order for them to be woven seamlessly into the plot.
Ultimately, however, the movie is running with a theme that works well and it is an enjoyable watch.
The film's director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who is making her live-action debut following her work on the Kung Fu Panda franchise, said she wanted to make the film feel as though it could happen tomorrow rather than in some distant future 30 years from now and, particularly in today's unstable political climate, she certainly achieves this.
Perhaps the movie's biggest strong point though is its characters, the majority of whom are endearing and developed well.
Liam and Zu's brother/sister relationship is heart-warming to watch, while the romance between the two protagonists, albeit awkward and clunky to start, does grow into one you hope will succeed and their emotional final scene offers hope that the potential trilogy has legs.
The film also benefits from having just the right amount of comedy littered throughout and there's not nearly as much cheesiness as you'd expect from a film of this genre.
It might be an unpopular opinion, but give this film a go - you might be surprised.
© Cover Media