by KJ Proulx
At this point, it’s nearly impossible to not talk about the behind-the-scenes drama that surrounded The New Mutants, especially before diving into a review. Filmed nearly five years ago and given an original release date in the early months of 2018, it’s finally playing in theatres as we head into the Fall movie season of 2020, which, in its own right, is already scarce for content. Before Disney purchased Fox, I had enjoyed many of the X-Men films, but I was also ready for a fresh take on the characters. X-Men: Dark Phoenix was the final nail in the coffin for me, and while The New Mutants is nowhere close to being as disappointing as that film was, I feel the effort to desperately find a slot to play this movie in theatres was very unnecessary. Here are my thoughts on The New Mutants.
Held in an institution against their will, five young mutants who are being forced to control their abilities before being allowed to leave, begin to discover a dark truth about this place. Haunted by their greatest fears and learning that the prophecy of the demon bear may actually exist, they must learn to get along and face a greater threat in order to escape. That general concept has been done so many times in different variations that it just seems stale at this point. With that said, I have to admit that it was also this film’s strongest point. The premise itself was intriguing and I enjoyed the first act of this movie quite a bit, but the rest of the film was a complete mess to me.
The New Mutants’ greatest downfall is the fact that it’s very uneventful, given the story at hand. The majority of this film is a series of scenes with characters either being overly confident in order to cover up their past or just downright miserable and depressed, making for many long and slow conversations. Not to say long conversations hurt a film by any means, but it felt like each character sort of learned the same lesson on different occasions, making the film feel long and repetitive, even at 90 minutes. It really isn’t until the final 20 minutes when any real action starts, and even the climax felt tame to me. Things sort of simmer down on their own before the credits rolled and I just didn’t feel invested by that point.
On top of the very glaring issues this film suffers from, I feel that the biggest culprit lies in the characterizations of each and every one of them. From Anya Taylor-Joy to Charlie Heaton, The New Mutants is loaded with a talented young cast, but they aren’t given anything stellar to do, which will leave audiences believing these young stars didn’t try hard enough. There are some truly cringe-worthy lines of dialogue here and while they were clearly intentional, this screenplay was just a mess. Right down to their backstories, I never once felt connected to any of them. They were all fairly typical stories of loss and grief. Nothing set these characters apart from one another.
Overall, The New Mutants has a nice little concept that it does absolutely nothing with. The cast is very talented, but they all come off as bad here, due to what they’re working with. Director Josh Boon directed the very well-made romance adaptation The Fault in Our Stars, which was a very quiet film and I believe those quiet sensibilities transferred over to this film and made it feel slower than it should’ve felt. For a film revolving around teenagers having superpowers and being billed as a horror, it should’ve been far more entertaining. It’s not the worst film I’ve seen that’s based on a comic book, but it not a good one either. Sadly, this movie went through a lot of struggle, which built more hype around it as a whole, which I feel gave people some false hope. I can’t get myself to recommend this one.
Check out the trailer below: