The Darkest Minds 1.0 stars

Darkest Minds movie poster

Another teen dystopia franchise first chapter, notable chiefly for its willingness to be honest — even “good” teens can and will do very bad things when scared or upset or just full of adolescent emotion. No, dude, it’s not romantic when you use your telekinetic powers to drag a girl onto the dance floor after she says no. No, sweetie, it’s not just when you sentence a bounty hunter to agonizing suicide after you’ve hijacked her mind. As a result, “good” becomes, to some extent, a matter of “good company” — my tribe vs. yours, and I’m younger and better-looking. (Star Amandla Stenberg offers an appealing mix of strength and vulnerability despite her dialogue.) So while it’s nice to see family (the kind with Mom and Dad) get a nod, it’s “family” (the kind you assemble from peers like yourself) that, as usual, gets held up as the ultimate source of meaning and community. Notable also for its willingness to display coarse language (kids these days), and nasty behavior — it’s a dystopia; when mind-control powers are in play, is it really so surprising that they get used for murder, rape, and torture? Notable finally for a penultimate scene of sacrifice that actually makes good use of computer effects in the service of emotional affect. Less notable for its rote plotting, frequent doldrums, and goopy soundtrack. 2018.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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