After two years, five different release dates, and a massive amount of reshoots, The New Mutants has finally been released to the public. During the middle of a global pandemic. In theaters. You guys remember movie theaters, right? Those places we used to freely go to where a bunch of random people get together in close proximity in an enclosed space for hours at a time. Perfect. As if the lack of proper marketing wasn’t enough to ruin this release, this was the final moldy cherry on top. Way to go, FOX… err, Disney.
As the Marvel fandom sat back and patiently waited for this release, I couldn’t help but think that no film could possibly live up to this kind of hype. And after having finally seen The New Mutants over the weekend, I can confidently say that statement, unfortunately, rings true.
The adaptation of the comic series touted as a dark and gritty coming-of-age horror flick from the director of The Fault In Our Stars seemed like an extremely promising way to bring the FOX-era X-Men franchise to a close. And that’s not even a joke. Have you seen The Fault In Our Stars? That movie is fantastic. I cried like a little baby. Realistically anything seemed like a better way to bookend the franchise than Dark Phoenix, so the bar for Josh Boone was set extremely low. Apparently not low enough though.
The film revolves around five “new mutants” that are being held in what is seemingly an old hospital surrounded by a force field created by Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). The reason for their captivity is pretty vague, but it’s basically because, if released, they might not have full control over their powers and could cause severe damage to themselves and others.
The graduating class consists of Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams — Game of Thrones), the loner lesbian Scottish girl that can turn herself into a wolf, Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy — Split, Glass, and Playmobil: The Movie), the bitchy hot girl sorcerer sister of Colossus who can turn her right arm into metal, teleport through discs, and has a purple dragon friend named Lockheed, Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton — Stranger Things), the handsome jock who is basically a human jet engine that can fly really fast, Bobby da Costa (Henry Zaga — 9 episodes of Teen Wolf, and 4 episodes of 13 Reasons Why), the mysterious Brazilian shy guy mutant that controls solar energy, and Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt — Stumptown), the Native American new girl in school that hasn’t quite figured out her powers yet. Spoiler Alert: She ends up being the most powerful one in the bunch after discovering that she can create illusions based on other people’s fears and desires.
That sounds like the recipe for a pretty kick-ass movie, right?
The problem with The New Mutants is that the story itself is just flat-out boring. I don’t know if it stays true to the comics because I’ve never read them, but I have to assume that the comics have more substance than this film. I have no choice but to chalk this failure up to poor writing and an intense lack of character development. In all fairness, the real-life wolf named Chuck that they cast to play the wolf did a fantastic job. He was such a good boy. And I guess the other actors also did the best that they could with what they were given. When they happen, the action sequences are cool and well-executed, but unfortunately, that’s just not enough to make this movie entertaining. I don’t want to give too much away, because I’m sure there are some of you out there that will still want to watch this, but the whole movie feels like it’s trying too hard to be edgy. From its unexplored lesbian subplot that comes out of nowhere between Rahne and Dani to its “horror” undertones, it all just feels tacked on. It takes a lot more than a dark filter to make a truly dark film. Maybe there is a better version of this film on a hard drive somewhere that the studio just wouldn’t get behind, but unfortunately, this version is what we got.
It’s honestly a real shame that a film that tried so hard to push the boundaries of the normal superhero flick by introducing a mutant lesbian love story, a Native American superhero, a Brazilian superhero, and a character that struggles with their religious beliefs will be so quickly forgotten. I guess that’s what we get when the director refers to Rahne and Dani’s love story (which is really just one make-out scene) as “the spine and focus of the film’s character-driven stuff.”
To wrap up, this is a disappointing send-off to what I consider to be a great franchise (except for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, that movie is garbage). MARVEL, take the wheel. I guess the only good to come out of COVID-19 is that the majority of movie theaters are closed right now, so most of us won’t have to spend our hard-earned dollars to see this film. But if you really have money to blow and desperately want to watch a butchering “dark” take on a beloved comic series, you might not want to risk contracting a deadly virus for this one and just stay at home and watch FANT4STIC. I think it’s only like $4 to rent right now and the worst thing you’ll get from that is a headache. Stay safe.
The New Mutants is in theaters now. If any theaters near you are actually open.