If you know me, you’ll know that I am a HUGE Marvel nerd. I still regularly keep up with their comics and always on the lookout for more Marvel media (be it movies, books or games) to consume. The New Mutants have been on my radar since forever…and not for the reasons that you think.
Yeah…the controversies surrounding it certainly helps keep it on my mind. There have been numerous rumors of reshoots, cuts and more! That’s certainly enough to get you intrigued right?
The other reason I was looking forward to it? It’s supposed to be a horror movie! It’s not the first supernatural Marvel movie (Blade and Ghost Rider have done that) but it’s certainly the first one with a decidedly more horror focus than other Marvel movies.
With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness set to release sometime in 2022, there’s a dearth of Marvel horror on the cards.
I wished it had remained that way.
What is The New Mutants?
The New Mutants is the last Marvel film from 20th Century Fox (which is now called 20th Century Studios after the Disney buyout). It’s ostensibly set in their X-Men universe, though with the convoluted nature of that, it’s perhaps a godsend that it doesn’t refer too much to those movies.
The New Mutants is directed by Josh Boone (who also serves as co-writer) and stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga and Blu Hunt. It’s been in development since 2017 and at one time, thought to have been abandoned, especially with the turmoil of the Fox/Disney purchase.
To see the film released at all is something of an accomplishment but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s pretty bad.
The New Mutants are a group of troubled teens who are gathered together in a medical facility to learn how to control and harness their powers.
There’s Rahne aka Wolfsbane, who’s played by Arya St…I mean Maisie Williams, Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Robert Da Costa aka Sunspot (Henry Zaga) and Illyana Rasputin aka Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy).
If you’re a fan of Marvel Comics, you’d probably have heard of at least a few of them.
Dani Moonstar was recently in action as the last Valkyrie after all of them died in the War of the Realms, Sunspot and Sam are off with the Shi’ar in the new X-Men series, Wolfsbane had a fairly substantial arc a few years back too with her young child and dead husband. That’s before we even come to Illyana, who’s the sister of Colossus (yes, the X-Man), the ruler of Limbo (not the dance, the dimension) and all round badass on Krakoa.
The point I’m trying to make here is that these are established, fairly famous characters that anybody with a passing interest in comics will know. True, they’re at the beginning of their journey for the movie, but aren’t just random poseurs Marvel picked to star in a movie.
It’s to the movie’s credit that it actually does a passable job of portraying them and their powers. They’re not exactly true to the comic characters, but they’re close enough. I did expect Illyana’s Soulsword to be MUCH bigger though…massively disappointed that it’s so small in the movie.
The actors do their job well enough, though I did find the performances a bit stilted.
I do like that they cast Maisie Williams as Rahne.
Not just for the familiar face, but also because Rahne’s a diminutive woman in the comics as well. It’s one of the reasons why her transformation into Wolfsbane is so cool. You go from this tiny lady to this hulking beast in a blink of an eye. Kind of like Bruce Banner to the Hulk, except furrier and female.
With a handful of characters and their cool powers, you’d definitely be expecting action of some sort. When you go into a movie (especially a Marvel one), you have certain expectations. If you’re watching an Avengers film, you’d expect there to be fights of epic magnitude. You wouldn’t want to watch the Avengers talking to each other for most of the movie, right?
That’d be boring!
Well…that’s essentially what The New Mutants is.
It’s a talky-talky movie that tries to be heartfelt (with messages of belonging and familial ties and whatnot) but one that falls flat. Why the powers that be decided to do that I have no idea. Just jump in and do a full blown horror movie! Or if not, just why not just make it have more action?
I kept asking myself those questions throughout the movie.
The setting is ripe for scares and jumps galore. They’re in a freaking hospital with only 5 patients and a doctor! It’s a perfect setup! Yet, it’s one that goes unused. For all intents and purposes, the movie could be set in a prison or any enclosed area! Nobody would know the difference.
It’s nice that there are small nods here and there to the larger Fox X-Men universe (NOT the MCU or Sony’s version of it). For one, The Essex Corporation plays a big part in the movie. He’s not shown or mentioned (that I noticed) but Nathaniel Essex is of course, Mr Sinister.
Unfortunately, those nods don’t satisfy the hardcore fan. They seem like more of an afterthought than genuine Easter Eggs.
On top of that, the horror aspects are pretty much left to the last act as well.
The movie starts off with its horror vibes well enough, but by midway things start to fizzle out. When the finale is at hand, there’s too little horror, too late.
There’s very little buildup to everything to make anything memorable. Events do come to a head, but it’s not the explosive finale you’re hoping for. The ending fizzles due to its cathartic nature, which is a copout in itself. If you’re hoping for something big like Endgame’s and bombastic ending, brace yourself.
It’s not happening.
I guess that pretty much sums up the movie too. Not much happens and then it’s over.
The Verdict: C-
Should’ve been better.
- Decent character portrayals.
- Pretty good looking (if rather basic) CGI.
- Boring plot.
- Needs more horror.
- Ending lacks oomph.