Feature film adaptations of dystopian YA novels have almost become their own genre in the last decade or so. High concept science fiction stories with a built-in audience are ripe for adaptation and perfectly suited to a franchise-focused Hollywood. While the release of Maze Runner: The Death Cure could have signaled the end of this trend, there are still popular books with interesting stories that have the potential to drive the next craze. One of those stories is Alexandra Bracken's Darkest Minds series. The first book in the series, The Darkest Minds, is getting the feature film treatment courtesy of the producers of Stranger Things and Arrival, and the director of Kung Fu Panda 3, and now we have the first trailer. Check it out below.
The first thing that stood out to me from the beginning of this trailer is how pretty this movie looks. The Darkest Minds looks to be well shot and have a more interesting aesthetic than this genre often provides. The special effects also quite good, so this movie should bring the spectacle and hopefully live up to the expectations of book's fans. While you don't see much of them, The Darkest Minds also has boasts the talents of This Is Us's Mandy Moore and Game of Thrones's Gwendoline Christie. But this trailer focuses on the kids, primarily Amandla Stenberg's Ruby. Getting into the story is where there is some interesting stuff, as well as some elements that could be considered derivative and potential pitfalls for this movie.
The concept presented at the beginning of the trailer is an interesting one. Some sort of plague has wiped out 98% of America's (the Earth's?) children. Right away, I'm interested to know what brought about this plague and if this is a Children of Men situation where all of the adults are now sterile and no new children can be born. I'm also wondering if the origins of this plague will be explored. The children who survive gain special abilities, and this is where this film goes into major X-Men territory. The abilities look cool, but as is often the case in stories like these, those without powers fear and oppress those who do, seeing them as different and dangerous.
Ruby is struggling to control her powers, which are considerable. This is where a Professor X-type figure would really come in handy. Much like the X-Men, these oppressed powered people will have to run, hide and fight to survive in a cruel world that doesn't understand them. The powered kids are also grouped by color according to their powers, in a Divergent sort of way.
There is a 'coming of age' story element to this trailer, too, as these young people all find one another and band together to survive. That is where I hope this film excels, and with Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy producing, there is hope that it will. The relationships between the characters here are key, and this diverse cast looks to have good chemistry based on the trailer.