The New Mutants
After five botched release dates, The New Mutants has finally reached cinemas. Dropping in the middle of a pandemic is the final symptom of this cursed film. Despite the distribution hell, though, it’s not the nothing-burger that some have dubbed it.
In fact, this X-Men film is enjoyable for its dissimilarity to the rest of the series. Josh Boone distinguishes his entry through a smaller-scale narrative, a renewed visual standard that’s marked by a darker palette, and significant LGBTQ representation. Altogether, The New Mutants is a refreshing verse in the 13-film canon of the X-Men.
Five of Hollywood’s emergent stars are brought together to assume the titular role. They’re a group of superpowered youths looking to free themselves from a secret facility wherein they’re trapped by the omnipresent Dr Reyes (Alice Braga). Maisie Williams, better known as Arya Stark, portrays Rahne, a Scottish lycanthrope haunted by her strictly religious past. Stranger Things star Charlie Heaton plays Sam, a Kentuckian who has accidentally committed patricide and can fly around at jet speed. Teen TV regular Henry Zaga is Roberto, a rich Brazilian kid who can channel solar energy. Scream queen Anya Taylor-Joy plays the highly abrasive Illyana, a Russian sorcerer haunted by a smiling man. Finally, Another Life actress Blu Hunt breaks ground as Dani, a Native American mutant with an unnerving ability that’s slowly elucidated over the course of her imprisonment.
The script doesn’t go deep, but it does go somewhere in exploring the characters, chiefly their trauma and their interpersonal bonds, especially focusing on the budding romance between Rahne and Dani. But casual and hardcore X-Men fans are shafted by Boone’s inability to explain the hows and whys of his narrative, including how and why it fits within the canon. Genre fans should keep low expectations too, because the CG images of demented humanoids look too anaemic to really register as horror. And, for all the creative effort of experimenting in a smaller scope, the third act falls into the overly familiar trap of mind-numbing spectacle – it’s like it’s compulsory for comic book movies to have a messy, VFX-heavy finale.
For the most part, though, The New Mutants is a fine origin story that ironically comes at the close of the franchise, as the Disney-Fox merger promises new beginnings for the X-Men. Though its legacy will be short-lived, it can be appreciated for doing something different.
The New Mutants is released nationwide on 4th September 2020.
Watch the trailer for The New Mutants here: