I’d not sure what was wrong with the old mutants, but Marvel never saw a stone they didn’t fancy getting some blood from, so this is essentially a reboot of the X- Men franchise with a fresh young cast and no good ideas to justify it. I started this blog with the chief aim of rewarding good work, but it’s superficial to write about great films all the time; even when reading other publications, I tend to read the five and the one star reviews first, and boy, is The New Mutants a one-star film.
Writer/director Josh Boone had one job really; take the notion of a school for teenagers gifted with super-powers and establish some new IP. The X-Men franchise only generated a couple of good films (Days of Future Past and Logan), but the characters ended up fairly spent, and I’ve never found the chutzpah or the stamina to look at the likes of 2016’s notorious dud Apocalypse. What went right here was the casting; Anya Taylor Joy from The Queen’s Gambit as a Russian doll complete with wig, Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as a Scottish mutant, Charlie Heaton from Stranger Things; you’d expect audiences to lap all this up. But somehow a film about a group of teens being experimented on in a dank, deserted laboratory didn’t float many people’s boats, and watching the deeply fusty result, it’s not surprising.
Boone conjures a couple of arresting shots and moments in the first twenty minutes or so, raising hopes of a hidden gem. But The New Mutants seems to have no narrative engine at all, leaving the viewer feeling as locked in as the kids do. Alice Braga has a cypher of a role as their captor, but there’s no real revelations, and as a casual watcher, I simply didn’t understand what was happening; isn’t the Xavier school for mutants meant to be a positive force? I’ve long since lost track of who the goodies and baddies are in this universe, and The New Mutants didn’t rekindle any enthusiasm to find out.
The Nightmare on Elm Street movies are a clear inspiration here, although inspiration probably isn’t the word. Instead, there’s zombies called the Smiley Men that seem to spring out of nowhere, and a terrible-looking CGI bear that serves as the basis for the final action scene; I saw this movie last night and can’t remember anything about it. Shot back in 2017, and delayed multiple times, production difficulties probably didn’t help, but even those starved of entertainment will turn up their noses at this melange of green-screen, terrible dialogue and murky confusion not seen in the super-hero world since the equally miserable reboot of Fantastic 4. Out with the New Mutants, you’ll be begging to get the old ones back after this…