This young adult film wants to tell teens out there that it’s okay to be who you are and use the gifts you have.
Whether the memories are good or bad, we all remember our teenage years.
That awkward stage half-in and half-out of adulthood, it’s a time where you’re both simultaneously trying to fit in and stand out, and where your first attempts at asserting your own style came with a side of pimples and crippling insecurity.
But acne and bad first dates notwithstanding, we have something to be thankful for, and that’s that none of us had superpowers to deal with on top of that. The same can’t be said for the characters of The Darkest Minds, set for release on 23rd August.
Adapted from the first in a series of young adult novels by Alexandra Bracken, the story follows a dystopian world in the wake of a plague that has wiped out most of the children on the planet.
After surviving the pandemic, the remaining few adolescents have another fight on their hands as they realise they’ve all developed superpowers due to a phenomenon known as Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration.
As the government, fearful of the ramifications of mutant teenagers running amok with superpowers, begins rounding teens up and segregating them in internment camps, it’s
up to Ruby – a teen with mind control capabilities – to break free and lead the resistance.
Despite its setting in a dystopian future, for director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, it’s the film’s themes of human relationships and not fitting in that make it very relatable for teens of today, superpowers or not.
“One of the most important things with this film was to make it as grounded as possible,” she told denofgeek.com. “That you could literally go outside and see this happening today – it’s part of the immediacy of what is happening in the story.
“The thing is, they’re just characters that happen to be diverse,” she added. “It’s endemic to the book, and it’s so rare, so natural, so real. It speaks to so many people – I think a lot of people find themselves in this story.
“We had to make sure that the movie was a real balance between the joy and positivity of the relationships, in addition to the real dire situation that the kids are facing – the circumstances are dire. But they have to be dire in order to show the strength of the characters overcoming them.”
While adolescent relationships form the film’s core, for author Bracken, there is a bigger picture – that the world can change rapidly, and teens need to stay responsive to those constant shifts for an uncertain future.
“This story was really inspired by my experience being a freshman in high school when 9/11 happened and then watching how very quickly by the time I graduated from high school how different the world was and how quickly life can change around in the face of this big tragedy,” she noted in an interview.
“[Teens] are so driven and so smart and so passionate about the things that they love, so if you can teach a teenager to harness that hope and that drive in them, they can really, genuinely, change the world.”
Also starring: Amandla Sternberg, Mandy Moore, Harris Dickinson and Miya Cech
Running time: 105 mins
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WORDS Camille Hogg