The Darkest Minds Parent Guide
The overarching theme in this story involves valuing diversity --although the script comes off the same as many other dystopian, teen sci-fi films.
Parent Movie Review
Teens with special powers. Adults who try to stop them. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. The Darkest Minds isn’t blazing any new trails for Hollywood—but it ticks all the boxes for a teenage sci-fi action movie.
The story opens in a school cafeteria where a young student has an apparent seizure and drops dead. Within weeks, half of all kids are dead, killed by a new and mysterious brain disease. The survivors have an array of new powers – telekinesis, extreme intelligence, mind control, fire, and more. The government fears the children and sends armed soldiers to round them up. They are shipped off to camps where they are held behind electrified fences and subjected to experiments to “cure” them.
The beginning of the movie is disturbing, especially when protagonist, Ruby Daly, (played with big-eyed luminosity by Amandla Stenberg) is taken away to the camps at the age of ten, where the inmates are separated by their color-coded gifts. Six years later, Ruby escapes, meets up with three other fugitives - Liam Stewart (Harris Dickinson), Chubs (Peyton Wich), and Zu (Miya Cech). The group goes on the run looking a rumored children’s settlement where they can live without fear. When they find it, they discover that everything isn’t what it seems. Hard decisions about right and wrong, loyalty and sacrifice await. (And there is plenty of waiting… this movie is the beginning of a trilogy, so don’t expect a tidy conclusion.)
Parents will want to be aware of issues around violence and sexual content. These are significant enough that the movie is not suitable for younger children, although teens will likely enjoy it. This action flick features the usual fist-fights and gun battles. Still, the most upsetting episodes involve the intersection of mind control and violence. In one, an unnamed character uses his mental powers to control the thoughts of a police officer who beat him and force her to shoot herself. In another instance, a male teenage character in a position of authority attempts to sexually assault a teenage girl. It isn’t clear if the abuser is inside her mind or is assaulting her physical body - although I think it is the latter. The attack is not graphic, no clothing is removed, and she escapes from him very quickly. Aside from this very problematic moment, the only other sexual depictions involve innocuous embracing and kissing between Ruby and Liam.
The relationship between Ruby and Liam illustrates the most positive messages found in The Darkest Minds. This media portrayal of an adolescent love story is unusually wholesome. The two begin with friendship, move on to romance, and keep it clean. They are fiercely loyal to each other and are willing to put the other’s needs ahead of their own. Fidelity, responsibility, love, and sacrifice dominate their mutual bond, as well as the one they share with Chubs and Zu.
The other overarching theme in this story involves valuing diverse gifts – even if they are yours. As Ruby is told, “Never be afraid of who you are.” The movie clearly shows the power of accepting yourself and others. When the four multiracial friends arrive at the sought-after settlement, they are amazed to see children happily growing food, guarding the camp, and working – all without color coding. “We don’t segregate by color,” says the leader, “We respect differences but we’re all the same.” A good message, yet one that perhaps filmmakers have taken a bit too much to heart. While there are differences between movies in this genre, they are starting to feel a little too similar.Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. Starring Mandy Moore, Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release August 3, 2018. Updated October 30, 2018
Watch the trailer for The Darkest Minds
The Darkest Minds
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Darkest Minds rated PG-13? The Darkest Minds is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence including disturbing images, and thematic elements
Violence: Violent and disturbing images are common. A child collapses and dies in the school lunchroom. Children are rounded up by armed soldiers and transported to camps. Children who try to escape are shot by guards. A child controls a soldier’s mind so she kills herself. Characters with power over fire burn other characters. Repeated fist-fights between different characters are shown. A character is beaten and kicked. Characters enter the minds of others and change their thoughts. One character attempts to sexually assault another. Gunfights are frequent and in one scene, an armed adult shoots at children driving a vehicle. A character pulls a helicopter out of the sky to try to kill another character.
Sexual Content: A teenage couple embrace on a dance floor.A teenage boy kisses a girl. A teenaged male character, in a position of authority, attempts to sexually assault a teenage girl.
Profanity: A handful of moderate and mild profanities are used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated October 30, 2018
The Darkest Minds Parents' Guide
In several scenes, characters (both good and bad) control the minds and thoughts of others. Sometimes they do it to save others, sometimes for selfish reasons. Do you think any of these acts are acceptable? Why? What do you think people are entitled to do to protect themselves?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This film is based on Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, which is the first novel in a series.
Shannon Hale has written a series of books about young women with unusual powers. The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets and Forest Born are a great read for kids 10 and up.
Tamora Pierce’s 12 book Emelan series features teens whose powers work through weather, plants, thread and metal. Sandry’s Book is the first in the series.
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay tells the story of Princess Aurora, a warrior princess of beauty and strength with the unfortunate ability to take over the free will of any man who falls in love with her.
News About "The Darkest Minds"
From the Studio:
When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and they must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.
Written by Twentieth Century Fox
The most recent home video release of The Darkest Minds movie is October 30, 2018. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
Divergent features a society which separates everyone into distinct factions. Children with magical powers attend school and save the world in the Harry Potter franchise. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief tells the story of demi-gods who build a special retreat in the woods to hide from their enemies and train to defeat them. Amanda Sternberg also tries to break free of adult oppression in the movie Everything, Everything.