Here for another guest review is Amari Sali from Wherever I Look. This time he is back to review this week’s latest release The Darkest Minds starring Amandla Stenberg. Make Sure to Follow and Like his page on the links down below.
Skylan Brooks’ One-Liners
While, in many ways, Chubs doesn’t evolve much past being the male version of the sassy Black best friend, you can’t deny his jokes are funny. To the point, if the romance doesn’t get to you, or the sappy mental and emotional recovery of Ruby, Chubs may become the sole thing you liked in the movie.
It Can Get You Emotional
What makes this movie is Amandla Stenberg. Particularly because the writing of this film relies so heavily on the character’s loneliness. Her wiping her parents’ memory of her is the emotional backbone of this movie and it is brought up so much you are left wondering if they are trying to make a drinking game. Luckily, Stenberg conveys this loneliness in such a way which makes you feel for her. It makes her inability to trust after her own parents turned her in and her, for 6 years, making herself seem small heartbreaking in a way.
But, it also makes it where, as she opens up, you want to applaud her for doing so. Especially since, as Zu attaches herself to her, and Liam falls for her, you see her slowly warming up to the idea of trusting these people. Something that takes nearly the whole damn movie for that is the real journey here. Not these ragtag kids finding some sanctuary but Ruby coming out of her shell, becoming part of something, and feeling secure in those relationships. All of which Stenberg does in such a way where she survives what really is a generic script.
So, Why Can’t Zu Speak?
As asked, there is a serious need to question why Zu doesn’t talk. She doesn’t speak English, a language from the different cultures of Asian – nothing. The reason isn’t explained, and she really does feel like a token. A adorable, silent, Asian character just to say one is part of the movie to appeal to a foreign market.
You Can Imagine This Being One and Done And It’d Be Fine
This is an extremely generic film. So generic that, if you have seen The Hunger Games
or even the now-canceled Divergent series, if not Maze Runner, you can imagine all that would happen in its sequels. Truly, the one thing which makes this film stand out is that its lead is a Black woman. That’s it.
So, Can We Talk About How Rapey This Movie Is?
Two times in the movie, Ruby is in a position where she was almost raped. The first time is early in the movie when The Captain of the camp Ruby is in clearly is trying to make an advance. Making you wonder, is this supposed to hint this is a norm or if maybe Ruby has been molested before. Following that, Clancy, while trying to learn how to memory wipe like Ruby, takes advantage of her trust, while she tries to teach him, to attempt to have sex with her. He even, after it doesn’t go right, talks about wiping her memories of it and trying again.
Simply put: WHAT THE F***? How is this PG-13? A man old enough to be Ruby’s father clearly is trying to make a move on her and if it wasn’t for another girl, he might have done something and got away with it. Then, with Clancy, he was messing with her memories, like she was drugged, and was going to have sex with her. Both of these dudes are adults and if Ruby is even 17 I’d be surprised. Hell, even if she is 18 or above, why would that matter? By all means, wouldn’t most assume this is a movies for kids or teens?
On The Fence
You’ll Warm Up To Ruby and Liam As A Couple
Being that the YA Novels probably put more effort into the male and female lead being in a relationship, than anything else going on, it makes this film follow suit kind of meh. However, piggybacking off the previous topic, as Liam wins over Ruby by showing he doesn’t fear her, won’t discard her, and will fight for her, he wins you over. You may not find him to be a heartthrob who will make a pedestal worthy romance but he gets the job done.
Overall: Negative (Be Cautious)
I can understand why someone would watch this, if they are a fan of one of the actors or adaptations of dystopian movies featuring teens. Yay for the marketing department doing their jobs. However, between how generic this movie is and two instances which give serious rape vibes, it’s hard to even be divisive about this. For while I am a fan of Stenberg, and Brooks is always nice to see working, even my bias for them isn’t strong enough to say this is worth your money or time.
Hence the negative label. Can this be enjoyable? Maybe. It depends how low your standards are or how forgiving you can be. However, this film is the type which may inspire you to write a book series or movie for it really pushes the idea studios are desperate for the next big franchise.