The New Mutants (2020)

"I don’t think this is a hospital. The place that I saw, I think that’s where we go, when we leave. If we leave.""I don’t think this is a hospital. The place that I saw, I think that’s where we go, when we leave. If we leave."

“I don’t think this is a hospital. The place that I saw, I think that’s where we go, when we leave. If we leave.”

Three long years, it took three long excruciating years for The New Mutants to go from pre-production to a theatrical release. In all honesty, I, like many others, never thought this movie would ever come out or see the light of day. Thanks to numerous delays in the release schedule and a global pandemic, the finality of the Fox X-Men universe finally comes to a bittersweet conclusion, more bitter than sweet. Following on the heels of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which isn’t saying much since that experience should be forgotten entirely – The New Mutants isn’t a total disaster as some make it out to be. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good, either.  

What made The New Mutants an intriguing concept is the horror elements that would be added into a comic book adapted universe. Combining genres isn’t a new concept either, Marvel Studios and the MCU have been doing that for years now, pretty successfully too. But the horror genre gave this X-Men spinoff an idea to be explored that would add a new dimension to an evolving genre of films. The only bad thing is the film isn’t very good which leaves a bad taste in mouth while finally being able to view the final product. Even with the bad taste that The New Mutants leaves, there is some (very little) promise in the story by writer/director Josh Boone.

When all is said and done, the promise ends up feeling empty and unsatisfactory. There’s a sense of an identity crisis revolving around Boone’s script making it difficult to pinpoint what the message The New Mutants is attempting to convey. Genres keep switching constantly, is it a horror movie? Coming of Age? Comic book? Frankly, all the supposed jump scares were featured in the trailers making The New Mutants easily predictable with where the story was going next.

“Do you know what mutants are? Mutation most often occurs in puberty. You might spend the first thirteen years of your life relatively normal. Then, just like that, you come of age and discover your true nature.”

Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) witnesses the death of her village and father due to a tornado causing her to be in the care of Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). Four other young mutants are under Dr. Reyes’ “care” where the thought of joining the X-Men was the endgame. That isn’t the case since these mutants are dangerous to others and themselves.

Out of the five young mutants only Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) makes Dani feel welcomed. Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy) torments Dani at nauseum which suggests the antagonist role for Illyana but in reality, she’s just misunderstood. Then there is Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga) who round out the rest of the young mutants. One would think that having a smaller cast would allow for each character to be fully developed to the point that we know them on a deep level, but that’s not the case here. Boone chooses to spend most of the time exploring a love interest between Rahne and Dani – not entirely sure why since the love story doesn’t leave a lasting impact the way it was intended to. It’s just another element that is poorly planned out that has to be juggled. Love stories within a comic book property rarely works and this is a good example of it. 

Just like with most MCU movies and the previous X-Men films, The New Mutants suffers from a villain problem. There’s a feeble attempt to make Reyes the villain but she’s written paper thinly that her character is just there to keep things moving. That’s not to take away from Alice Braga – she has enough talent in her to make her character somewhat interesting but the character herself doesn’t add any substance to the final product, she’s just a means to an end.

“Look, something’s not right! I’m seeing things. Terrible nightmares. When will I ever get better?”

The New Mutants struggles to give any development to its five mutants. Of course, they all sneak out and play a truth or dare game which gives some type of back story on all on who they killed to get tossed in such a lovely place, but it’s not enough to form any kind of connection. Dani is given the most development since the story is centered around her perspective and experience at the nameless hospital where she and the others are imprisoned. Again, it’s not the fault of the actors that their characters aren’t developed, the names alone ooze talent, and they do their best to squeeze the most out of their counterparts. 

With Dani, at least her survivor’s guilt is intriguing – it’s the most nuanced aspect to her character. Same can be said about Illyana and her nightmares about the Smiley Men, Rahne and her attack from a priest because she’s essentially a werewolf, Roberto and the fact that he fears what he becomes when his mutation takes over or how Sam killed his father. The issue is with Reyes, Her motivation is problematic and is barely touched upon. all we are made aware of is she has a nameless employer for majority of the film that ends up being a dead end that has no outcome on the final act. Each character’s backstory is juggled to fit another’s in which takes time away from the set up that’s already being explored. Part of that problem is the shorter run time.  

what the new mutants has going for it is the visual effects. The demon bear is such an imposing force on screen and the Smiley Men are creepy as hell – sort of a slender man type of creature. What Roberto and rahne transform into provides a small tease at the potential The New Mutants has but in the end it’s just a pointless tease.

Much can be said about the legacy of the Fox X-Men franchise. There have been peaks and valleys with each film released but if one thing is certain it’s the consistency of the characters and the actors and actresses who play them. 2000’s X-Men opened a lot of eyes toward the comic book genre – it’s a pioneer film in that aspect. Ending with The New Mutants is disappointing given the success the franchise had. ultimately, The new mutants is too little too late to salvage anything that sour taste dark phoenix left behind. I wanted this to be good – as with every movie I see but the underlying issues suffocate the film from ever catching its breath. 

So, tell me, have you seen The New Mutants and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

The New Mutants is written and directed by Josh Boone is Rated PG-13 and has a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. The New Mutants was released on November 26, 2020 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 39 minutes. The New Mutants can be streamed on HBO Max and bought on online retailers including iTunes, Amazon and Google. 1.5 out of 5.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: