Just when we thought the ‘dystopian future’ trend of Young Adult fiction adaptations had finally come to an end, along comes The Darkest Minds to drag us back into this well-worn genre. The good news is that, unlike many of these ‘teenage-apocalypse’ efforts, the force is strong with this one. Its ever improving-pedigree now includes a talented female director, a talented female lead, and not one, but two women connected to the Star Wars universe.
The source material in question is The Darkest Minds book series, by Alexandra Bracken. These tales – set in the obligatory dystopian future – focus on a 16 year old girl named Ruby, who finds she has special powers. As she begins to explore them, and attempts to bring them under control, she escapes a prison camp in search of a young leader who is said to be able to control these incredible abilities. Along the way, she joins forces with similarly gifted young people as government forces attempt to track them down and recapture them.
Bracken, has proven herself so popular that she was hired to write a Star Wars novelization, titled Star Wars – Episode IV A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel and the Farmboy. This association with a galaxy far, far away is now borne out by the casting of Gwendoline Christie – who stars in the newly rebooted Star Wars film franchise as the coolly-detached Captain Phasma. In The Darkest Minds, she will again embrace that enigmatic presence by playing a fearsome bounty hunter, hot on the trail of the escaping teens.
Christie joins Amandla Stenberg, who will play the lead role of Ruby, and Mandy Moore in the role of Cate. This will mark a return to the Young Adult genre for the excellent Stenberg, who previously starred in The Hunger Games. Taking the helm of this adaptation is Jennifer Nelson Yuh, who will be making her live-action debut here after finding huge success in directing Kung Fu Panda 2, and co-directing Kung Fu Panda 3.
The Darkest Minds is currently still in pre-production, so we can expect casting announcements to continue. No release date has been set, but with Christie now on board, we can expect the profile of this movie to rapidly increase.