Movie Review: The New Mutants (2020)

The product of a notoriously troubled production period, including delays, reshoots and the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney somewhere in the middle, The New Mutants is the lucky number thirteenth entry in the X-Men film series. When young Native American, Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt, The Originals, Another Life) escapes the destruction of her home and reservation, she awakens inside a hospital compound, run by Dr Reyes (Alice Braga, Queen of the South), alongside several other youngsters with magical abilities: Rahne Sincalir (Maise Williams, Game of Thrones), Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga, Teen Wolf), Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton, Stranger Things) and Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy, Split, The Queen’s Gambit), and her imaginary friend/puppet, Lockheed. As various supernatural events begin to take place, the young mutants look for the cause of the events, and for a way out of the hospital. The film is directed by Josh Boone, and is the final outing in the X-Men film series.

+ overall the cast of characters is fine. I’m a fan of Taylor-Joy, and know enough of Braga, Williams and Heaton from their various endeavours. I did not know of Zaga or Hunt before this, but neither were anything to put me off seeing their films. Heaton/Zaga had a few scenes together, as the only males on the otherwise female led team, and I think those moments were among my favourite
+ there are no codenames or costumes to be heard or seen. I opted to include this as a positive simply because it makes sense; none of these younger characters would have codenames yet. That said, there are a few not so subtle lines near the end of the film that hint at the characters’ comic book alter egos. They’re nothing special, if not a bit clunky

– the tone of the movie is all over the place. Director Josh Boone had said it was intended to be “a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe”, but there was far too much coming-of-age drama if that were to be the case. The spooks are tame and the drama seems to drag forever
– none of the cast stand out. Taylor-Joy’s Rasputin has the most backstory, but frankly her attempted Russian accent was really disappointing. The powers on display (essentially something like teleportation, flight, fire control – among others) are nothing we haven’t seen before in other films, even in other X-Men movies
– it’s very clear that this movie was intended to, or hoping to have at least one sequel. There’s a big reveal that ties into something the other X-Men movies also tried to bring in, but the continuity of that is questionable at best now. I don’t want to simply say they were holding ideas back for the sequel, but…

Should you see this film: Nah. Though arguably perfectly fine in a vacuum, however you slice it – ensemble teen drama, horror movie, superhero adaptation – a better movie already exists. The history leading up to the movie’s release was almost more interesting than the movie.

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