While only my opinion, I believe that any X-Man fan in the world would agree with me when I say that twelve film franchise has become very stale. I confirmed my thoughts after Dark Phoenix, which is a pity considering the successes of these film are very up and down, if you plotted them on a graph, there wouldn’t be a clear view of progression or deterioration. But I won’t lie, The New Mutants looked promising, Logan incorporated Western themes, now the series would dabble in the world of horror. Alas, delays, reshoots and more delays meant interest for this film dwindled, and now it out, it can only be described as a film of two halves where the first half is intriguingly decent and the second half is where it all falls apart.
On paper, this film is an interesting concept. Much like its characters it is contained in one location with a limited amount of characters. This concept has worked in the past and when done properly, audiences can devote their attention to getting to know these characters on a more personal level, with each scene slowly revelling more about who they are and the scale and consequences of their mutant powers. In retrospect, writer and director Josh Boone seems to be taking that angle and achieves this with some and falters with other.
Two characters reflect this ambition, we’ll start with one that was almost perfect and that is our main antagonist Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt). This is her feature film debut and while her performance shows this, I think she handled the character pretty OK given what she had to work with. The mystery surrounding her is finding out what her mutant power is and what happened when her reservation is destroyed leaving her the sole survivor. Her mystery gets answered, but it feels a bit lackluster, as if there isn’t enough substantial information the film gives us about her to reach the solution. However, someone who I felt I definitely knew and someone who elevated the character of Dani is Rahne (Maisie Williams) a young mutant struggling with her religious upbringing after an unpleasant event. While it’s obvious from the moment go that there is going to be some kind of romantic interest between the two, as an individual, Rahne felt like the character that carries the most emotional baggage because she has gone through a realistic trauma and not one that is pushed via an effect of their mutant powers.
You can accurately pinpoint the moment when The New Mutants film begins to fall apart, it is the moment when the film acknowledges it is in the X-Men universe. There are tie ins with other events that have happened or have been mentioned in the other films and this is almost like a rope tugging it back down to earth, not allowing the film to transcend. I genuinely believe if the X-men tie ins were dropped completely, The New Mutants would have been much more appealing to audiences, but it can’t shake itself clear of having to be part of the X-Men universe and it drags it down to below the bar.
Another effect of the film falling apart in the complete tonal shift from horror to general superhero film. I don’t know if it was studio interference or just the effect of long term delays, but for some reason The New Mutants moves away from the allure of horror/thriller and becomes another, cookie cutter superhero film with all the generic kinks to prove it. Going from barely using CGI to relying on it during the climactic scenes is a massive and risky step to take and the negative effects of taking such a step are in plain sight. There are just some elements of the second half of the film that betray what the film was intentionally going towards.
It sounds like I’m only giving praise to the first half of the film, but I’m not. There are actually a lot of things in the first half that could have been improved on, case in point, the editing. All in all, it’s a very bland affair with very odd choices such as using hyperlapse footage of the medical facility the characters are kept showing a passage of time. There are a variety of methods out there to show this but a hyperlapse just feel un-cinematic to me. It feels like it should belong in a company video, not a full-length feature film.
This film has the big, marketing lure of a straight-up horror film, but in reality, it barely has any pizzazz to it. It a straight down the middle affair in which it’s either good, or bad, but you can’t exactly call it average either. There were murmurs of this film being released on streaming services, but I’m actually glad it released on the big screen, because everyone would be skipping it on Netflix or Amazon Prime. But one way to improve this film which I think Josh Boone should take up, is to release a director’s cut. Fix the editing, the tonal shift and deliver to us the straight up horror film that was packaged to us. DC fans are excited for Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League, I’m sure some Marvel fans would welcome this idea for The New Mutants. However, I have to judge the film now and in the here and now, The New Mutants just isn’t that impressive.
Final Result: 4/10 – Below Average
Have you seen The New Mutants? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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