The New Mutants Review

The New Mutants
Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams), Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga) are four mutant teens who are sequestered in a hospital run by Dr Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). When newcomer Danielle ‘Dani’ Moonstar (Blu Hunt) joins them at the facility, strange events begin to occur, with each mutant experiencing their greatest fear come to life.

by Amon Warmann |
Updated on
Release Date:

08 Apr 2020

Original Title:

The New Mutants

The road to the big screen has been long and fraught for The New Mutants. Originally due to arrive in cinemas in April 2018, it’s been beset by delays, a corporate merger, and thanks to pandemic that ground the world to a halt, yet more deferrals. After all of that, there’s something strange – and a little remarkable – about Josh Boone’s film being one of the few to manage a cinematic release at a time when many cinemas aren’t even open for business. But while it’s not as awful as some had feared, The New Mutants isn’t worth the wait either.

The New Mutants

Part of the frustration here is that the foundations are solid. Each character is dutifully given an origin – some more effectively than others – and the familiar themes of othering and belonging that are part and parcel of the X-Men franchise are present and accounted for. The small-scale nature of this film when compared to the world-shaking stakes of other superhero flicks is welcome too. But Boone (The Fault In Our Stars) and Knate Lee’s uncomplicated screenplay barely goes beyond surface-deep on a thematic or character level. It’s hard to tell whether it was edited out or never there to begin with, but every character ends this movie in dire need of more depth.

Despite its 15 rating the movie looks and feels like a 12A, with forgettable scares.

One area where it looked like The New Mutants might feel distinct is with its visuals, with early bits of marketing leaning into its apparent horror aesthetic. But despite its 15 rating the movie looks and feels like a 12A, with scares that you’ll forget about as you’re watching. As for the action, it’s a mixed bag; there are some fun moments, especially when Anya Taylor-Joy decides to put Illyana’s souped-up sword to good use on an impressively rendered CG bear, but there’s not an action sequence that delivers a sustained amount of excitement. It’s not helped by a dark, gloomy palette which feels all too bland.

The one consistent bright spot is the cast, who make this watchable in spite of the poor material they’re saddled with. While it’s irritating, for instance, that Ilyana’s racism – she calls the lone Native American character in the movie ‘Standing Rock’ – is never reckoned with, the sheer amount of fun Taylor-Joy is having at any given moment radiates on screen, even though her thick Russian accent falters from time to time. And while she is far too passive as the character who is ostensibly meant to be our lead, Danielle (Blu Hunt) is, along with Maisie Williams’ Rahne, one half of a same-sex romance that for once isn’t relegated to a two-second kiss. It’s the one area where The New Mutants outshines its franchise counterparts.

But that alone is not enough to save it from feeling like a missed opportunity to really do something radical and different. Since 2000, the X-Men franchise has soared as high as X-Men: First Class and fallen as low as X-Men: The Last Stand. This isn’t quite as bad as the latter, but it can’t save the franchise from ending on a bum note.

Despite a game cast, The New Mutants’ horror elements aren’t very scary and as a superhero movie it fails to truly excite. A disappointing finale to Fox’s X-Men franchise.
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