The New Mutants
Director: Josh Boone
Writers: Josh Boone, Knate Lee
Stars: Maise Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton
Release Date: August 28, 2020
After such a long wait, the X-Men fans all were rooting for The New Mutants to be at least passable. The journey for it to hit finally hit the big screen was stressful to say the very least. Credit to Entertainment Tonight for putting together this handy-dandy timeline.
May 2015 – Fox hires The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone to co-write and direct The New Mutants, intended to be part of the studio’s growing X-Men cinematic universe.
April 2017 – The New Mutants gets its first release date: April 13, 2018
May 11, 2017 – Casting is done for the movie with Maisie Williams being the headliner (coming off her Emmy nomination for season six of Game Of Thrones)
September 2017 – The New Mutants completes filming (for the first time…)
October 2017 – First trailer for The New Mutants is released, which candidly I was super hyper for.
January 2018 – The New Mutants is delayed till February 22, 2019
March 2018 – The New Mutants is delated again till August 2, 2019
Mid-2018 – It was reported that The New Mutants would be undergoing reshoots to make it scarier.
March 2019 – Disney buys 20th Century Fox, leaving in flux the yet to be released Dark Phoenix (2019) and The New Mutants.
May 2019 – Another new release date, now The New Mutants will be released on April 3, 2020.
January 2020 – A new trailer for The New Mutants was released, showcasing more of the movie.
March 2020 – Director Josh Boone says the film is a wrap again, and also says that there were no reshoots done. He broke his silence on all the delays, saying: “And I’ll tell you this: if there hadn’t been a merger, I’m sure we would’ve done reshoots the same way every movie does pickups. We didn’t even do that. Because by the time the merger was done and everything was settled, everybody’s older.” OH, WAIT. This is when COVID-19 hit the world, so the movie was delayed indefinitely.
May 2020 – The New Mutants gets its fifth release date: August 28, 2020.
August 2020 – The New Mutants hits theaters
ALRIGHT, I HEAR YOU. Now let’s finally get to the movie.
The New Mutants is focused on five new mutants who are just discovering their abilities while being held captive at a secret facility. Their residency is under the pretense that they need to be in a safe environment for themselves, and it is Dr. Cecila Reyes (Alice Braga) who is seemingly caring for them. As the group of teenagers get acquainted with one another, they discover that they are stronger together rather than individuals.
The main character of the story is Dani Moonstar, played by Blu Hunt. She is the newest member of the hospital and we are learning the setting and context for the story through most of her eyes. We do not know her power as a mutant at the start, but her ability acts as the catalyst for the climax. The other children retained in this facility are Rahne Sinclair (Maise Williams), Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam Gunthrie (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga).
Rather than going into detail about each character (because frankly, it just isn’t worth it at all), lets stick with the one positive: Anya Taylor-Joy. Most people now recognize the name for Netflix’s new show, The Queen’s Gambit, but she has had a lot of success in the movies. She was in the well-received all-be niche film Emma. (2020) and had a phenomenal star-making performance in The Witch (2015). In The New Mutants, she is the only one of the five young actors to give a notable performance. She has some emoting, and her backstory is interesting enough. What may also help her character is that her “worst fear” is a creepy-ass smiling man, and among all the “fears” that come to life, this grinning monstrosity is easily the most memorable.
I mention “worst fears” because that is the power that Dani Moonstar has. Without knowing it, Moonstar conjures up everyone’s worst nightmares, including her own. Such a power is what leans The New Mutants towards a darker tone compared to some other X-Men movies. Not every worse fear is memorable. Rasputin’s is the best, and Sinclair’s visage of a creepy, evil priest is passably effective. This power is powerful and all-to real, and Dr. Reyes and her superiors’ (who communicate with her only remotely) notice. Dr. Reyes is ordered to put down Moonstar, but only after extracting some DNA samples. Sinclair gets a sniff of this plan, and propelled by young love, she steps in an prevents Reyes from completing the deed.
So begins the final sequence. Moonstar, while in a coma due to Reyes’ drugging, conjures up her own worst fear. A giant ass bear stomps through the woods and begins to terrorize the grounds. It is up to the kids harness their powers, work together and defeat the beast before it kills everyone. Naturally all things end hunky-dory for the good guys, and they end driving off into the sunset with a new sense of freedom.
ALRIGHT, DEEP BREATH. I know I went in too deep on the plot and what happens, but that is because there is not much else to write about regarding The New Mutants. This movie still manages to disappoint despite expectations constantly being lowered by the extended release. There are no stars to book this movie around and without an obvious major story tie-in, it is hard to buy into the journey with less than developed characters. The New Mutants spends so much time trying to set a mood with the scenery that they forget to make the audience care about the characters. There are two rudimentary scenes of them all sitting in a circle and talking to one another where we learn all we need to. That is really it. What also hurts is that the dialogue in The New Mutants is just bad. It is plain jane.
There is not a lot to like about The New Mutants. It is a second whimpering finale to this modern-day X-Men franchise run. Between this and Dark Phoenix, it would not be surprising to see Disney take a break from the X-Men universe. Allow room for the fans of the franchise and IP to breathe, and hope when you bring it back, that there is still a hunger for it.
STANKO RATING: D- (1.5/5 Stars)