The New Mutants
20th Century Studios
Written by Josh Boone and Knate Lee
Directed by Josh Boone
Starring Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga and Adam Beach
Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.
The final film in the Fox X-Men franchise of films has had a long journey to make it to the screen. After reshoots and reschedules, the film was given a limited release before it made its way to Digital and Blu-Ray. Unfortunately, the film was not really worth the wait.
Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) is awakened by her father who forces her to run from their home and hide in the woods as an unseen force destroys her reservation and kills everyone around her. When she awakens, she finds herself strapped to a bed in a mysterious institute populated by mutants with unique powers and dark, often violent pasts. The facility is run by the mysterious Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga), who tells the students that they are being treated in order to have them rejoin society.
As Dani comes to grips with finding out she’s a mutant and not knowing what her power is, she meets the other patients and becomes close to Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams). Strange events begin to unfold as the patient’s darkest fears being to manifest, but they are unable to leave because of a mysterious dome that keeps them locked in with a growing nightmare.
Writer/Director Josh Boone tries to take the Marvel superhero formula and elevate it with a pseudo haunted house horror story that happens to feature comic book characters. There is teen angst throughout and the plot follows a pretty predictable trajectory towards it reveals and story beats so one would think that would give the story time to develop its characters. You would be wrong. Despite some good actors in the roles, the characters are flat and you’re never given a reason to either like or care about any of them beyond the script telling you to.
There’s an attempt to tease a larger story as well with Reyes’ mysterious superior, but it is clear early on that it’s not who you think and even that revelation has no real impact or stakes. One of the biggest problems with the film is its lack of stakes. All of the characters can be found in the comics so there is no sense of actual danger for any of them. Reyes’ character is set up to be the bad guy, but she has no real motivations to speak of and that means no menace. The only character to have any sense of substance is Ilyana Raptuin (Anya Taylor-Joy) and that’s because she is set up to be the heavy.
The New Mutants tries to take to meld the superhero genre and the horror genre together to make something unique. Unfortunately, nothing new develops and what is there lacks substance beyond the special effects.