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Soundtrack review: The darkest minds (Benjamin Wallfisch – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The darkest minds (Benjamin Wallfisch – 2018)



“The Darkest Minds” is a 2018 American science fiction thriller film directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and written by Chad Hodge, based on Alexandra Bracken’s young adult novel of the same name. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, and Gwendoline Christie, and follows a group of teenagers who are on the run from the government after mysteriously obtaining superpowers. From what I’ve seen in the trailer this could be a take on the “X-men” story and since that’s my favourite group of movie heroes I might check it out. Benjamin Wallfisch wrote the score. For me he was the composer of the year 2017 so he’s on a roll.

He opens with a 7 minute long title theme that takes me through all the range of emotions a movie trailer usually does: there is emotion, there are epic action moments, there are dreamy passages. All these different parts fit together nicely and this cue plays like a remembering montage. I know this sound is not for everyone, the RCP sound, the sudden electronic bursts but for me it’s right into my musical comfort zone and when I listen to a piece like this is like entering a familiar room where I feel very good and where every element is a friend. He continues with “Ruby’s theme”, a melancholic quiet pice where a female voice hums in the purest young adult heroic way, full of hope and promise and exaggerated idealism.

Personally I am a fan of the famous and infamous RCP sound that so many are against; I can see their side of things when I hear certain parts of this score, like the beginning of “Lady Jane” which gets too loud and emotionless but those moments are rare and can be easily overlooked. That very cue takes off in an epic motif right after. Many cues suffer from this duality which makes it hard to enjoy or highlight a single cue, rather bits and pieces, separate motifs. As soon as a warm melodic passage come on it’s followed by a wall of electronic action and even if, as I said, there are moments I enjoy I cannot say the same about the score as a whole.

“The darkest minds” sounds a bit rushed, like it was composed or put together very fast from pieces we’ve already heard from the endless RCP vaults; this means that the music is familiar and uneven as it doesn’t have a narrative thread I could follow. Surely I found enough motifs that inspired me and charmed me as I did moments that I didn’t like. Most of the romantic music gets a thumbs up. My problem was the way they were assembled as the pieces don’t always quite fit together. The end salvages the standalone listening experience as from “Home” on the score suddenly finds its footing but the issues from the first 10 cues remain.

Cue rating: 76 / 100

The Slip Kid

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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