Every Monday and Friday we’re bringing you The Darkest Minds content leading up to the film’s Aug. 3 release
There’s nothing like making a good first impression. Especially when it comes to Young Adult book-to-movie adaptations. If there’s a more untrusting fanbase, it’s the fans of the book that you’re taking from one medium to another and hoping that you don’t offend them along the way.
Book fans are passionate. They fall in love with the words on the page, the characters in these stories, and the messages that they share. It’s why these fans are so passionate. These are the stories they’ve read and visualized in their heads. They’re protective over it. So when it comes to taking a 300-page book and adapting it into a 2-hour film, it’s not easy. You’re not going to please everyone. And that’s perfectly fine.
But when all is said and done, all most of these fans really want is to feel like they’re seeing the characters they love come to life in a world they recognize in a series of events that outline the journey. All of the other things don’t matter as much. But as long as you maintain the essence of the story and the heart of the characters and follow the events of the book, you’ve got a faithful adaptation.
As far as first impressions go, The Darkest Minds trailer left a lasting impression. The good kind. The great kind. The hopeful kind. The kind that makes you want to go watch this movie 20 times.
In The Darkest Minds, we meet Ruby and three runaway teens (Liam, Zu, and Chubs) as they seek safe haven from a society that deems them dangerous because of the abilities they have developed. Along the way, these teenagers learn the true meaning of family and the importance of self-empowerment — especially when it comes to embracing your differences.
It’s a story that has a distinctive feel. A feel that borders on reality and dystopian without really crossing that former line. It’s a unique world that is driven by the characters that inhabit it. It’s a story that’s driven by empowerment and love and family and strength. It’s something that, already, I noticed in the film’s trailer.
Now, movie trailers can be deceiving, this is true. If found myself fooled by good movie trailers plenty of times before. It hurts. But if you look closely enough you can find reasons to be hopeful. Hopeful that a movie will be the faithful adaptation you want it to be.
So I did just that. I sat and watched The Darkest Minds trailer again. And again. And again. And again because, quite frankly, it gets even more epic with each viewing and I have no shame when it comes to my love for this series. And I found some reasons to be hopeful that The Darkest Minds will be the faithful adaptation we all want it to be.
It doesn’t feel like just a Young Adult movie.
Not that it’s a bad thing to really highlight a coming-of-age story. But when it comes to marketing a film, you can’t alienate an audience. This is a story about kids, but it’s not just for kids. It’s for everyone.
The narration by Ruby.
It feels like the book come to life in how we get to see all four of our central characters — Ruby, Liam, Zu, and Chubs — but it’s told through Ruby’s eyes. Hearing the narration over the images in the beginning of the trailer brought me right back into the books.
It focuses on the found family of Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu.
The most important dynamic in this story is the relationship between Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu. These are four individual kids who are thrown together because of a pretty messed up situation and become a family. This trailer did a good job of highlighting the group dynamic, as well as some of the individual relationships we’ll see.
It includes important book scenes.
One of the things that fans are always looking in a movie adaptation are those significant moments in the book that define the story or a relationship. Just watching the trailer there are several moments from the book that I recognized instantaneously. It’s important to pay homage to the source material — especially when you can’t include everything or please everyone.
Ruby and Liam!
This trailer did exactly what it needed to do by giving us a small taste of the beauty that is Ruby and Liam. Their relationship is one of the many joys of this first book and how it develops from awkward into something really special. The small moments mean just as much as the bigger moments, and I loved that we got to see them showcased in this first look.
You might not realize it, but music plays a huge part in a movie, including a trailer as this trailer proved. Ruelle’s “Revolution” played like an anthem behind some amazing shots of what this film has in store. The song captured the tone and preached one of the messages of this film, which is about rising up in the face of wrongdoing and empowering yourself and others. Brilliant choice.
The campfire scene.
Remember how we talked about including certain scenes from the books that fans need to see? This is one of them. This is such a big moment for Ruby and Liam and manages to capture so much magic in such a short moment. And the fact that this movie included it — and chose to showcase it — gives me confidence that this team understands how to balance book and movie.
The acting is subtle but impactful.
While adapting a book to a film script can be a challenge, finding the right people to bring these characters to life can be equally, if not more, challenging. While Amandla Stenberg remains the lone “known face” of our four kids, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, and Miya Cech managed to stand out in this trailer with their subtle but impactful moments.
The visual effects are fire.
Given that this is a story that includes abilities ranging from telekinesis to enhanced intelligence to mind control to controlling and creating electricity, the visual effects component was going to be an important one. The trailer did a great job of showcasing these powers in a way that doesn’t look cheesy but believable.
It showcases all of the powers.
Speaking of powers, I loved how this trailer managed to highlight all of the powers that these children have developed. From enhanced intelligence (Greens) to telekinesis (Blues) to electrokinetics (Yellows) to telepathy (Oranges) to pyrokinesis (Reds), this trailer gave us a little bit of everything. And this was only a taste.
The cinematography is stunning.
Something that can be underappreciated at times is the beauty of how a film is shot. There were some really beautiful shots of the landscape of this world in the trailer, particularly the beginning, that really do a great job of placing you in that world.
It doesn’t feel like a dystopian world.
While The Darkest Minds is classified as a dystopian story, the fact of the matter is that this isn’t a new society that’s been created. It’s more of an extension of our current society and feels much more similar to our reality than a dystopian reality. And you could really feel that through the trailer.
The tone feels like the book.
When it comes down to it, the important thing in this film adaptation is that the tone of the book is maintained. That doesn’t mean word-for-word or scene-for-scene. That means the heart of the story and of these characters is maintained and carried throughout, as well as the tone of the story. This is a story that exists in a dark world. But there’s a light that’s brought to it through these characters’ relationships. It’s hopeful. And I felt that from the trailer.
The Darkest Minds hits theaters on Friday, Aug. 3.
Stay tuned to Fangirlish every Monday and Friday for more The Darkest Minds Movie Talk leading up to the film’s release.