Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, offensive language & horror
Blu Hunt as Danielle “Dani” Moonstar/Mirage
Maisie Williams as Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane
Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Rasputin/Magik
Charlie Heaton as Samuel “Sam” Guthrie/Cannonball
Henry Zaga as Roberto “Bobby” da Costa/Sunspot
Alice Braga as Dr. Cecilia Reyes
Director: Josh Boone
Five teenage mutants – Mirage (Blu Hunt), Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga) and Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy) — undergo treatments at a secret institution that will cure them of their dangerous powers. Invited by Dr. Cecilia Reyes to share their stories, their memories soon turn into terrifying realities as they start to question why they’re being held and who’s trying to destroy them.
I remember when The New Mutants was announced and when the first trailer came out. I was interested with it being set in the X-Men universe (from 20th Century Fox) but what made it stand out was focussing on new characters for the cinematic universe, and having an emphasis and focus on horror. It seemed that there was some genuine interest by many people in this movie. As it turned out however, it got delayed 4 times, having been set for release in 2018 and 2019 previously. With it finally coming out in the worst year possible in 2020, along with all the prior delays leading to all its built up interest decreasing, not many people bothered to watch it when it was released in cinemas. It did take me a while to get around to watch it, but I ended up liking it despite its issues.
The script has quite a lot of problems. The plot is very familiar, generic and predictable, with very few surprises. The pacing was also weirdly rushed at times, and that’s considering that the movie is roughly 90 minutes long. There’s some awkward dialogue that probably could’ve been cleaned up with further drafts. There are some tonal inconsistencies, as The New Mutants struggles to be both a coming of age and a horror movie, and the two styles aren’t blended well. The most annoying aspect is that it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, and plays things way too safe. There are references to aspects of the X-Men universe but its mostly standalone. I’m not quite sure how its supposed to fit into the X-Men timeline but that’s not really one of the many standout issues for me. It is worth noting that the movie was intended to be part of a trilogy, which isn’t coming anymore. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some bright spots. Some moments and sequences worked well, there’s some nice and interesting concepts present, and I did like the small-scale stakes despite the large climax at the end. It also really benefited from its character driven approach, but it could’ve been handled better. The first act was alright for me if slowly paced, although I was still on board. The second act is where the movie is at its strongest when it is focusing on these characters and their interactions as they are trying to deal with their traumas and pasts. Definitely the strongest part of the movie. The third act is a bit of a jumbled mess as it gets into the climax, and it felt repetitive. It does feel strange that this is essentially the ending of the X-Men universe as done by Fox, as it was the last of their movies to be released.
5 main leads in Blu Hunt, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga and Anya Taylor-Joy give it their all in playing their comic book characters, and their chemistry together was quite good. Blu Hunt is decent in the main role of Dani/Mirage but is outshined by much of the other characters. There were mainly two actors among the 5 who stood out the most. Maisie Williams works quite well as Wolfsbane, and her romance with Dani is surprisingly well handled and the chemistry between her and Hunt is convincing. Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana/Magik was the other stand out performer. I will say that the racist comments the character gives towards the main character is quite unnecessary and out of place (even if it’s meant to further show her as being a bully towards her), it doesn’t really add anything. That aside, Anya plays the role very well and is especially great in the climax.
The directing by Josh Boone is a bit of a mixed bag. Occasionally there is some good imagery and sometimes its shot rather well. Also, I do like that the whole movie is set at this one hospital. On the whole though, the technical elements aren’t anything special. The visual effects aren’t that good, especially in the climax. There are some horror aspects but not as much as that first trailer showed it to be. It really seemed like they didn’t want to commit to these aspects, and if they did it certainly would’ve given the movie a more distinct style and made it work a lot better. The action in the third act was entertaining but nothing memorable. The editing can be very rough at times, and you get the feeling that some of it was changed during the years of all the delays.
The New Mutants was much better considering everything from constant delays to possible editing changes. I like the character driven approach, the performances and some of the ideas. With that said its definitely got some problems, from the writing, directing, editing, tonal consistencies and most of all its wasted potential. Check it out if you’re curious but you’re not missing much if you miss it.