“The New Mutants” finally released worldwide last weekend after two years of behind-the-scenes problems and the COVID-19 related shutdown of theaters.
Written and directed by Josh Boone, “The New Mutants” is the final film in the Fox X-Men franchise. However, it’s really a standalone story with only small hints to a greater universe.
The plot revolves around five young mutants forced to stay in a mental hospital until they learn to control their powers. However, all is not as it seems and something sinister is at play. As an air of mystery builds, the main mutants must learn to work together and overcome their pasts or be consumed by their worst fears.
While I had my doubts, my anticipation levels were high going into the film. I had been looking forward to the movie since the trailer dropped all the way back on Oct. 13, 2017. Furthermore, I hadn’t been to the movie theaters since March. It turns out “The New Mutants” is… meh.
The film has a cast of talented young actors like Maisie Williams (“Game of Thrones”), Anna Taylor-Joy (“Split”) and Charlie Heaton (“Stranger Things”). They all give good performances except for some pretty shaky and inconsistent accents. For example, Charlie Heaton’s character is from Kentucky and sports a painfully bad southern drawl. I also wasn’t a big fan of Blu Hunt who plays the main protagonist Danielle Moonstar —- yes, that’s the character’s actual name.
The characters themselves are fine, but they are not given anything more than thin backstories told to us in the most boring ways possible. All they get to be are the stereotypes seen in dozens of other movies like the pretty boy and the mean girl. This is the area of the film where I see the most wasted potential.
The biggest problem is that the film doesn’t know what it wants to be. It is billed as a horror movie, but the scares are few and far between. Boone fails to create the palpable tension and atmosphere necessary to really get under an audience’s skin.
The coming of age aspects are also underdeveloped. “The New Mutants” definitely gives off some “The Breakfast Club” vibes, but it never dives as deep into its characters and never reaches the emotional heights of that film.
Finally, in the third act, “The New Mutants” decides to be a typical X-men action movie. The final showdown is entertaining enough, but most of the cool action takes place off-screen.
A longer run-time could have helped cohesively gel these horror, drama and action elements together. It would have also allowed for proper development of the characters.
In fact, many of the film’s problems seem to stem back to the 90-minute run-time. It just feels choppy. Scenes feel like they randomly flow together with no real order. One example of this is the opening scene. The audience is thrown immediately into the action with no time to get to know the main character. It’s very unclear what’s happening, and to make matters worse, we never find out.
It sounds like I hated this movie, but there were some positive aspects. Illyana Rasputin (Anna Taylor-Joy) has some pretty awesome super-powers. She can summon a wicked blue flame sword, travel to a different dimension and turn her stuffed animal into a baby dragon. I also liked the message of not letting your past and fears control you. Besides that, nothing about this movie was very memorable.
I wish I could say this was a triumphant return to the movie theaters. I wish the two-year delay had led to a delightful surprise. I wish at least this movie was as God-awful yet memorable as “Cats.” Instead, “The New Mutants” is as mediocre as they come. I guess I can’t hope for too much more than that in 2020.