Movie Review: THE NEW MUTANTS
After several years, a plethora of re-shoots, and multiple release dates, this weekend finally sees the final installment in the X-Men franchise from 20th Century Fox with the release of Josh Boone’s The New Mutants.
Rumors and whispers have circled the film for quite some time, but after some final polishing, the last X-Men film to be released post Disney acquisition finally premiered for audiences. It will be interesting to follow the film’s success as many theatres are currently just now reopening with restrictions to adhere to for proper social distancing guidelines, as well as many theaters still remaining closed. With many studio films in the final negotiations to find release through streaming services, getting back into the groove of movie-goers returning to the cinema will be quite the challenge.
With The New Mutants being one of the first major studio films to be released theatrically since March, I would say the bar is pretty high. With that being said, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. Let us start with the plot itself. The film has the shortest runtime of any of its previous entries. However, the story felt bland, unoriginal, and completely predictable. Following suit of the last several entries, it seems giving a Disney a shot might be the redemption the X-Men movies deserve.
The reshoots of the film, along with Boone’s creative vision, were supposed to create the first film of its kind; a horror superhero flick. But, the horror elements were dismal, not even garnering an ounce of scare from the audience. This, blended with the rushed aspects of throwing all the materials into a blender and hoping for a new genre of movie, proved an unsuccessful attempt.
The film stars Maisie Williams as Rahne (Wolfsbane), Anya Taylor-Joy as Ilyana (Magik), Charlie Heaton as Sam (Cannonball), Blu Hunt as Danielle (Mirage), Henry Zaga as Roberto (Sunspot), and Alice Braga as Dr. Reyes. Following Danielle after a catastrophe killing her father, she finds herself waking up in a facility with other youths, all led by Dr. Reyes. The good doctor explains that Danielle’s adolescence has triggered a mutated gene within her DNA, a similar event that brought all the other patients under Reyes’s care. It is explained that the hospital is a safe haven for young mutants to learn how to harness and control their abilities before sending them on to the superior of Reyes. Who those superiors are isn’t quite revealed, with the patients believing it could be continuing to Charlies Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters to train and join the X-Men. However, as secrets unfold and the teen’s greatest fears begin manifesting within the hospital, it seems something much more sinister is at play. Further, the hospital that was supposed to be a sanctuary might not be the haven they believe it to be. In fact, they might be prisoners meant for something much more than they could have imagined.
While the film was meant to be the first in a trilogy, the baseline provided a lot of promise and had endless possibilities of how the story could have unfolded. But, with the rights to these characters being sold over to Disney, the pursuit of a trilogy was soon dismissed with the sole goal of 20th Century Fox being to just release the film as-is. With all the negatives aside, I will say that the film explored the interesting intersection of growing up and self-discovery with the challenges that come with young mutants learning how to control their abilities. With this, the film explored depression, guilt, sexuality, trauma as well as other defining moments in an adolescent’s life that can lead to great impact. It was a refreshing aspect of the film, and helped the cast build a solid foundation to deliver believable performances to the audience.
With an anti-climactic ending, I will say, the short and sweet finale was quite fun, and was an enjoyable chunk of cinema that surprised me – given the first 75 minutes of the film’s runtime. What Boone did with the character of Majik was a lot of fun and would have been something I think could have been extremely useful in strengthening the movie. I’m not sure what could have saved the feature to deliver an entry in the ever-popular superhero genre that is dominating at the box office: maybe the addition of more characters, a longer runtime with a bigger finale, or just some simple polishing and rebranding of the simplicity of the story, it’s an easy assessment to believe so much more could have been possible.
All of this aside, do I think movie-goers will see The New Mutants? Of course. The X-Men film franchise has been running for nearly 20 years, and even though the film doesn’t show much promise, fans will want that last fix, as well as the bit of closure offered by the final entry from the Fox Division. That being said, I’m not sure if fans will be rushing out to theatres anytime soon to get their fix or play the waiting game for the film’s digital and hard release.