Thursday, September 10, 2020

Movie Review: The New Mutants

The New Mutants ** ½ / *****
Directed by: Josh Boone.
Written by: Josh Boone and Knate Lee.
Starring: Maisie Williams (Rahne Sinclair), Anya Taylor-Joy (Illyana Rasputin), Charlie Heaton (Sam Guthrie), Alice Braga (Dr. Reyes), Blu Hunt (Danielle Moonstar), Henry Zaga (Roberto da Costa), Adam Beach (Danielle’s Father), Thomas Kee (Sam’s Father), Colbi Gannett (Young Illyana), Happy Anderson (Reverand Craig), Dustin Ceithamer (Smiling Man).

It should tell you something about how much the studio believed in The New Mutants, that even though it is the final installment in Fox’s X-Men franchise before Disney officially takes over, and it was released a week before Tenet, that everyone still lists Christopher Nolan’s film as the first big movie to come out in theatres since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The film has been oft-delayed, had more than one reshoot, and now that Disney owned it, but didn’t pay to make it, they just dumped it out there – hoping to make a few bucks off it, before putting in their library as just more content. It’s not particularly good – but as someone who suffered through Dark Phoenix last year, I can confidently say at least it’s not that bad.

The film is about a group of five teenage mutants – all of whom have a dark secret involving their powers, when they emerged, and were unable to control them. That’s how they ended up at the remote hospital run by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga) – who wants them to be able to control their powers better. Her superiors will be happy then - and they will be able to leave. Until then, they are trapped. Reyes is capable of putting a force field around the hospital to prevent escape. No matter what they do, they aren’t going anywhere.

The protagonist of the movie is Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt), a member of the Cheyenne, who she is told has been wiped out by a tornado – something she remembers in flashes. She doesn’t know what her powers are yet – Reyes is trying to figure them out – but her mutant energy is off the charts. She is stuck with the rest of them in the hospital – kindly Rahne (Maisie Williams), who can transform into a wolf, Kentucky coal miner Sam (Charlie Heaton) who can take off like Superman, the Russian Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is full of surprises that she hides behind her puppet, and Roberto (Henry Zaga), child of the richest family in Brazil, who doesn’t want to reveal his powers. The participate in Cuckoo’s Nest like group therapy sessions, and go on Breakfast Club like adventures around the building when they don’t think Reyes is watching.

The film is clearly setup to be an origin story – so gradually, we will get the tragic backstory of each of the five people, and learn what their powers are. Danielle bonds with Rahne quickly, and just as quickly develops a rivalry with Illyana. Mainly though, they sit around and wait for the climax.

The young, talented cast aren’t really able to do very much with their roles. Mainly, they tell you everything you need to know about them, and drop hints about what is going to happen in the end. For as much talk as there was about this being a horror film, it’s only there in fits and starts. Yes, the Smiling Man is creepy, and a Priest is also creepy – but that’s about as far as it goes. The climax is basically more CGI soup – although thankfully on a smaller scale than normal.

I think The New Mutants could have been an interesting place to take the X-Men – start using some different faces rather than Wolverine, Cyclops, Professor X, Magneto et al that we’ve been watching for 20 years now. I just wouldn’t want this production team to continue the story, as they basically found the least interesting way possible to introduce us to the story. Filmmaker needs to stop looking ahead two or three movies at what they’re going to do in the future, and make the movie they are making now better. The New Mutants doesn’t do that – and its precisely the reason there won’t be any more coming in this series.

No comments:

Post a Comment