Director: Josh Boone
Cast: Anya Taylor Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, Alice Braga
Runtime: 1 hr 34 mins
Rating: M18 (Some Mature Content)
Released By: Walt Disney
Official Website: https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-new-mutants
Opening Day: 27 August 2020
Synopsis: 20th Century Fox in association with Marvel Entertainment presents “The New Mutants,” an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive.
There are different ways to approach a comic book movie adaptation. Marvel has demonstrated they can turned any of their properties into million-dollar franchise. DC on the other hand has managed to crash and burn several of their iconic characters. Sony at the moment only has Spider-man and Venom to play around with while Fox for the record has produced a very successful, very dark, mature Logan in 2017.
After facing lots of delays including shifting of release dates, rumours of the director being removed, additional reshoots, the acquisition of Fox and an ongoing pandemic, Josh Boone’s The New Mutants is finally released. Like last year X-Men: Dark Phoenix, it’s doubtful long-time X-men fans will find Boone’s outing enjoyable or even satisfying for that matter.
Often dreary, ominous and desperately in need of a torchlight, The New Mutants starts with a young native American, Dani (Bu Hunt) who lost her family in a tornado and is subsequently sent to a hospital run by a doctor named Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). At this eerie facility (definitely not Xavier Institute and no Professor X in sight), we are told that the youngsters staying here are mutants with special powers and they need to control their manifesting abilities before they can qualify to be X-Men or so they believe. In the meantime, they are preserved by magnetic force field which prevent them from leaving at will.
Besides Dani, there’s Rahne (Maisie Williams), a Scottish mutant who can turn into a wolf, Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), a Russian sorcerer of sorts with a purple dragon puppet, Sam (Charlie Heaton), a mutant who can fly and Roberto (Henry Zaga), a manipulator of solar energy. Each equipped with more than enough suffering and sad backstories to fuel the plot for an hour before we see anything remotely exciting happens.
Boone who did The Fault In Our Stars and Stuck In Love is obviously out of his comfort zone here. He is too preoccupied delivering his alternate version of the X-Men but it just ends up more liked a moodier, creepier pilot episode of The O.C. and Gossip Girl. Without inputs from Kevin Feige and Marvel, The New Mutants is just an uninspired mess.
Anyone recall Sucker Punch? The Zack Synder’s psychological fantasy adventure that involves the sanity of a group of young ladies that are being committed to an asylum. Yup, The New Mutants is more akin to an alternate version of Sucker Punch, just less fun and more dour. Somehow, Boone is unable to maintain the same kind of emotional intensity displayed in his romantic dramas. We don’t really know deeper into Dani’s power, struggles or her romance with Rahne nor the sinister plan of the corporation behind Reyes. Heck, it doesn’t even achieve half of its potential despite more than an hour of build-up.
There are so many elements that are strangely out-of-place. Is it Boone’s ideas to include some horror themes? Well, that’s simply weird and unnecessary. Who are the Smile Men? Are they just metaphors for the mutants’ psychological well-being or real-life creatures at the command of Reyes? And then there is Demon Bear who appears in the finale. A half-baked treatment of a character that appears in the comic book series, The New Mutants and X-Force.
For sure, we are looking at a much tamer compromised version of The New Mutants. It’s an interesting concept on paper but the final product fares liked its slapped together by constant studio interferences and Boone’s lame, angsty treatment that all energy are sucked out by the time it reaches the big screen.
(A somewhat tepid and boring superhero flick that puts a tragic end to the X-Men franchise before the next reboot)
Review by Linus Tee