THE NEW MUTANTS – Film Review

Five teenage mutants — Mirage (Blu Hunt), Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga), and Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy) — undergo treatments at a secret institution that will cure them of their dangerous powers. Invited by Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga) to share their stories, their memories soon turn into terrifying realities as they start to question why they’re being held and who’s trying to destroy them.

Back when Josh Boone’s The New Mutants was released in theatres this August, I never got around to seeing it even though I really tried my best. At the time, I was seeing a ton of other movies and simply never got the time to go see it. On top of that, I was still quite iffy about going back to the movie theatre with the coronavirus pandemic going on and is still extremely active all these months later.

Despite the fact that everybody I talked to hated the film, I still really wanted to see it because not only am I a massive fan of comic book movies, but I am a big fan of the X-Men series. My favorite film in the franchise is perhaps Days of Future Past, which marvelously (pun intended) blended past and present timelines of various different characters, which sounds confusing on paper, but in actuality, was a mind-bending, fun, and exhilarating entry in the series.

Don’t get me wrong, not every X-Men film is terrific, namely X-Men Origins: Wolverine which is not only the worst installment in the franchise but is without a doubt one of the top three worst superhero movies ever made. Funny enough, however, I remember absolutely adoring that movie when I was a kid and I couldn’t stop talking about it to my best friend at elementary school who also loved it.

Some people will say that last year’s Dark Phoenix is actually worse, but I have to disagree. I think that the film is actually great and it’s one of those rare instances in which I vehemently disagree with the masses on a superhero film. Most people seem to think that the film was a disaster and an incredibly disappointing entry, but I couldn’t disagree more.

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

So, I was hoping that I was going to have a similar experience with The New Mutants. Most people seem to think it’s really bad, but I was hoping to genuinely have a good time and much to my delight, I did. This is not the best X-Men movie ever made. Not even close. It’s also not as good as Dark Phoenix. However, this is a decent blend of sci-fi horror with comic book characters that admittedly could have been done better, but the end result was entertaining and well-acted, so it’s hard to complain a lot.

If there is something to complain about here, it would be the direction and the screenplay. Sometimes, the script feels extremely hollow and it can be uncertain as to where the film is ultimately going. The first act doesn’t even feel like an X-Men movie whatsoever as we follow these characters in this hospital as they live their daily lives trying to prove to Dr. Reyes that they can get better in the hopes that they can one day have freedom.

The second act feels more horror-esque and it’s there in which The New Mutants starts to pick up its steam. That being said though, the first act is a chore to sit through at times. A lot of the dialogue throughout this movie is extremely weak and some lines are rather cringe-worthy, but luckily, this isn’t the case for the entire duration.

And I suppose that the horror elements could have been a bit more creepy at least, but at the end of the day, I was fairly happy with what we got here. They understandably didn’t want to make this film be a fully-fledged horror outing because they wanted to appease general comic book movie fans as well as the horror fans and so they could only do so much, and in my opinion, they did a fairly decent job with it all.

All of the action scenes are fun and entertaining while you’re watching them, even if they’re not too memorable in the long run. There really isn’t a scene in The New Mutants that I’m going to be talking about to my friends for years to come like you’d find in another superhero movie like Avengers: Endgame or Joker, but the action is well-filmed and has just enough energy to make it feel enjoyable, even if it is just in the moment.

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Aside from all the action though, the best aspect of the film is easily the performances from all the actors. Blu Hunt does a remarkable job in the role of Danielle Moonstar aka Mirage. She feels powerful in virtually every scene she’s in and is definitely an actress to look out for in the coming years. With her performance here, she proves she is a force to be reckoned with within the acting industry.

Maisie Williams also does a great job as Rahne Sinclair aka Wolfsbane, who sort of feels like the voice of reason throughout all the film’s madness. When things start to hit the fan, she’s usually the one that tries her best not to panic because she is a massive optimist. To her, there’s nothing she can’t overcome. Williams feels perfect for this role and I’m not sure I can see another actress in the role.

But I could also say the exact same thing for Anya Taylor-Joy, who portrays Illyana Rasputin or Magik. Ever since seeing her in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2016 horror-thriller Split, I have become a massive fan of her. She has quickly become one of my favorite actresses of all-time thanks to her absolutely phenomenal performances in everything she’s been in to date. Whether it’s Split, Emma, and even now The New Mutants, Taylor-Joy feels like a veteran in the industry.

And really, at the end of the day, the lead superhero group in the film feels genuine. By the time the movie came to a close, I felt like these people were a good team and a believable team at that too. I’m honestly hoping that this isn’t the last team we’ll see Wolfsbane, Magik, Cannonball, Sunspot, and Mirage, but judging by the poor box office earnings and the less than favorable reception this film got, it seems unlikely. That’s a shame, honestly, because The New Mutants really isn’t all that bad.

Overall Grade: B-

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent content, some disturbing/bloody images, some strong language, thematic elements, and suggestive material

Cast: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, Adam Beach

Directed by: Josh Boone

Distributed by: 20th Century Studios

Release Date: August 28, 2020

Running Time: 94 minutes

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