The New Mutants Review: X-Men Spin-off Embraces Strong Themes, but with Problematic Results!
Updated: Sep 22
The X-Men have certainly had a memorable time on the big screen. Since 2000, the iconic superhero team have been a part of cinema with an array of movies to its name; from massive adventures like X2: X-Men United and X-Men: Days of Future Past to more unique titles like Deadpool and Logan. However, since Disney bought 20th Century Fox, the franchise has come to a halt and its future is now a mystery. The series came a conclusion, albeit an abrupt one, last year with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, but it was not the last movie in the franchise as one remained in the form of The New Mutants. Directed by Josh Boone, The New Mutants is based on the X-Men comic series by Chris Clairmont and Bob McLeod which centers on the younger mutants of the X-Mansion. While there were interesting aspects surrounding the movie, such as its decision to have a horror aesthetic, the real story has been its journey to the silver screen as its been trying to hit theaters for over two years. From making room for other releases to the current pandemic, The New Mutants has struggled to arrive to the big screen but at long last it has finally made it and after this new superhero movie I find that The New Mutants was a different, albeit problematic, entry in the X-Men franchise.
The story centers on Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt) who, after an incident that destroyed her family, is sent to a facility run by Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). There along with other mutants like Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams), Sam Guthrie (Charles Heaton) and Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Dani is tested to gage her powers but finds out that something ominous surrounds both the facility and the kids themselves. The plot of New Mutants was mixture of things. Along with being a superhero origin with a horror narrative the story was also a coming of age tale dealing with young adults discovering themselves. This blend of concepts was a nice touch and gave the movie a unique sense of storytelling, but where the plot falters was in its execution. While the plot had good concepts its sense of pacing prevented these ideas from truly flourishing. This was particularly notable in first of half of the movie as several moments felt rushed and a bit sporadic. Because of this the plot felt like it was missing something to the point where,despite that it having a good core, this superhero tale felt underwhelming in its payoff.
The new mutants themselves were the strongest element to this movie. While some characters were stronger than others, the group themselves turned out to be better than expected. The reason for this was because of good balance with the characters’ inner conflicts and their normalcy. Some of the best parts of the of movie was interactions between the group as there was natural chemistry between them; whether it was Sam conversing with Roberto (Henry Zaga) or the relationship between Dani and Rahne. The only issues the cast had was their lacking progression. The movie does enough to give each character a sense of development, but the film’s pacing prevented the cast’s progression from evolving and caused some their arcs to feel abrupt. Regardless of this the cast was impressive and though they may not have been as big as other ensemble in the X-Men franchise, they enough merit to live up the series’ star studded alumni.
As noted, The New Mutants would feature a horror element to it and for the most part this direction was effective. While I would not say this is the creepiest film of the year, the movie was able to create an eerie tone. This effective atmosphere was thanks to the cinematography which gave the film a bleak look. While the cinematography was effective the movie’s editing on the other hand left much to be desired. Some moments felt choppy to the point where, while it was not hard to follow, it gave the movie an uncertain vibe to its presentation. Along with its mediocre editing was the movie’s low-key sense of spectacle. The effects were nothing to be in awe about but they were efficient enough to capture both the horror and superhero elements to the movie. Last but not least was the film’s score. The music by Mark Snow was not the most memorable of compositions but it did feel suited for the movie by blending tunes appropriate for both horror and YA films.
Much like Deadpool and Logan, The New Mutants brought something different to the X-Men franchise-but I would not say it shares the same impression as its peers. While it had plenty going for it, such as its thematic nature and enjoyable cast, the movie was plagued by its lackluster presentation which left much to be desired. In the end New Mutants does the best it can to bring something refreshing to its respected franchise as well as genre; and though I cannot say it was effective in its attempt I do however think that this X-Men spin-off was, at the very least, a tolerable experience.