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The New Mutants


‘…The New Mutants seems to have no narrative engine at all, leaving the viewer feeling as locked in as the kids do…’

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…


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  1. Tried watching it. Nope. Didn’t make it to the finish line. “I saw this movie last night and can’t remember anything about it.” – laughed hard on that line. That summarizes this film for me, even though I didn’t sit through the whole thing.

    • And I’m super interested in film, what works and what doesn’t, but even I just mentally curled up and died watching this. What was the objective of the characters? It’s screenwriting 101, and yet there’s zero goals here. I rarely admit defeat, but this film pushed me too far.

  2. I loved that early X-Men trio. That was my introduction to the “modern” superhero movie (before that I’d see the Batmans with Michael Keaton and George Clooney) but these were different. I watched way too many superhero movies for way too many years trying to recapture the magic of X-Men. This one sounds like a definite pass.

    • You seem to be in a majority! I’m not sure why they didn’t work for me. I’m not really a spandex guy, but while I appreciated that these films wowed their audience, it never quite clicked with me. So I’m probably poorly qualified to take over the coals…no Val Kilmer as Batman for you?

  3. The New Mutants comics allowed the artists to explore the school side of things, connecting with the teenage audience and all that. I have no clue how successful they were as I never paid attention to the X-franchises in the 90’s.

    The one or two times I’ve seen this movie referred to, it was always negative. And not just “meh” negative, but full on “this was baaaaaad” negative. Of course, now I want to go watch the original X-Men trilogy for nostalgia’s sake…

    • Yikes, good luck with that, I hated all these films, with First Class the worst. Hate using Holocaust stuff in comic book movies. This whole film was a mutation.

      • And this is where the difficulty of going from one medium to another happens, especially with an already existing fanbase.
        The comics had a whole generation behind them so the movies were just an extension of that for them. For people like you, it was rough going because you didn’t have the history.

        Of the X franchise, I liked the first trilogy and Wolverine: Origins. The rest of the X films I watched out of vague interest (except for this one) and then let it all go.

        • I’d happily bin the lot. Never really understood what the whole X Men thing was about…race? Sex? Individualism? Never quite landed for me. Although we CAN agree that Origins is ok, everyone else seemed to hate that the one.

          • X-men seemed to be about whatever the pet cause of the moment was. And hot babes in skintight “suits”. When you’re 13, that’s usually enough.

            I never understood why Origins got the hate it did. Sure, it wasn’t comic book canon, or even movie canon after they completely retconned it with the other movies, but I thought it was fun.

            • It made a lot more sense to me than most of the other films in the franchise. But that isn’t saying much…

          • It’s about bigotry, prejudice, being different…embraced by Gen X<Yers born in digital age who id’ed with ‘mutants.’ IMO–Stan Lee started the series, but it didn’t catch on till a talented young lad, immigrant, bullied, picked it up in 80s and was embraced…See Rolling Stone article along this vein…

            • I’ll take the hint and do my research. I’m get that there is a metaphor about being different, but can’t help but imagine that it’s better developed in the comics than in the movies. Rolling Stone articles tend to be fun, so I’ll look into this gap in my cultural knowledge….

  4. Couldn’t even finish watching the trailer. Heard Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 start playing in some kind of remix and had to shut it down. Tell me that’s not in the movie.

    What sort of powers do Scottish mutants have? I’m imagining being able to be in Glasgow and Edinburgh at the same time.

    Days of Future Past.

    • I don’t think that track was in the movie, but then again, I was questioning my own sanity for sitting through it.

      We Scots are the best, it!: everyone else that are mutants, Bunty.

        • That like me saying that your superpower is wrestling a moose. Can’t we move past these dated cultural signifiers? There’s nothing worn under this kilt…

          • Dated cultural signifiers? You’re saying you don’t think I wrestle moose? You’re saying you’ve never baked shortbread? I’ll take your word for the kilt thing, no pics required.

            • You’re getting pics and you’ll like it! Fancy a snap of my Greyfriars Bobby, you moose-wrestler!?

  5. Didn’t bother with this. I think they were trying to tap into the teen-scream horror thing only with added superpowers from an interview with a marvelly person I read at the time.

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