October 29, 2018  (Web Review)

The Darkest Minds

Fox, 104 min., PG-13, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, Oct. 30

Reviewer rating: 1.5/4

Yet another failed attempt to copy the Hunger Games formula, this adaptation of the 2012 first book in Alexandra Bracken’s titular series of YA novels is set in a dystopian America where an epidemic has killed off most of the world’s children. The survivors have been rounded up and put in detention camps because they have developed extraordinary powers that could be employed to dangerous ends. The detainees are categorized via a color-coding scheme according to their new abilities, while those deemed potentially lethal to others—the oranges and reds—are summarily executed. One of the mind-controlling oranges, Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), has eluded detection and escapes with the help of an underground resistance movement known as the League of Children. Rather than staying on, however, she joins up with three other youngsters-on-the-run—math genius Chubs (Skylan Brooks); Zu (Miya Cech), a mute girl who can control electricity; and Liam (Harris Dickinson), who possesses telekinetic powers—to make their way to a camp-for-runaways established by the mysterious Clancy (Patrick Gibson), son of the President (Bradley Whitford), who established the detention program. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, The Darkest Minds is not only derivative and predictable, but cheaply made and dull despite the hectic action, ending with the promise of a sequel that seems highly unlikely. Not recommended. (F. Swietek)