As a big-time Marvel fan—the comics, countless television series offshoots, and movies—I was actually looking forward to The New Mutants. Of all the Marvel entities, the X-Men and its many spin-offs, remain one of the most diverse and compelling. What's not to love about a band of misunderstood and often under-appreciated misfits of society? Relatable.
Translating the complex storylines to big-budget movies however, hasn't been 20th Century Studios strongest suit. And with The New Mutants (the final pre-Disney takeover X-Men film), we're almost entering X-Men Origins: Wolverine territory.
That this was marketed as a horror flick is laughable.
Cheyenne Native American teen, Danielle Moonstar (played by Blu Hunt), escapes a horrific tragedy that befell her reservation—killing her father in the process—and lands herself in a hospital for mutants. There she meets with the other only occupants of the eerie institution—lycanthrope Rahne Sinclair, teleporter and magic-user Illyana Rasputin, human cannonball Sam Guthrie, and the literally 'hot' Roberto da Costa—under the care of doctor Cecilia Reyes.
Here be spoilers…
What we didn't like
While there were obvious ties and mentions to the main X-Men franchise—Rasputin is the sister to the film franchise's favourite organic metal mutant, Colossus; Henry Zaga is the second actor to portray da Costa who was previously seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past; and Reyes was later revealed to work for Essex Corporation, an organisation that was teased in the post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse—they were more of passing remarks than organic tied-in narratives.
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, except that the same type of loose connections were what failed Marvel's television series The Gifted, also based on the X-Men universe. It could've been better if the Essex Corporation connection was revealed towards the final scene. Or perhaps even in a post-credits scene (the film didn't have any). Even if The New Mutants wanted to stray away from a direct connection and stand on its own, it could've been handled better than including half-baked lines that seemed forced at best.
For a movie that had a budget of almost USD70 million, the pacing of it was abysmal. And to think that this was meant to be a horror flick too. Writer and director Josh Boone of The Fault in Our Stars fame, has had no experience (or any semblance of flair, it seemed) in the horror genre and it showed. There was no build in suspense of any kind; not even in the movie's score. One would expect at least a jump scare or two—amateurish horror devices for sure, but effective if used well—but everything was predictable and suffered from bad editing.
Whoever edited the trailer though, did a much better job.
It's tough and a bit unfair to say that there's a lack of logical sense in the movie's narrative and pace, especially because everything about the movie is fictional, but there was nothing remotely relatable because slightly promising moments were not fully fleshed out. It's a superhero flick but even then, the characters are still essentially people. And nothing, not even the rushed romance between Moonstar and Sinclair, made me feel anything.
The New Mutants was delayed for more than two years, reportedly for reshoots partly due to Disney's less-than-impressed reaction to the original cut. In the end, no reshoots happened and this is what we got instead.
What we like
The action sequences and CGI were decent. And Anya Taylor-Joy's portrayal of Rasputin was the bright spark in the entire movie, with some of the best moments throughout centred around her.
What to look out for
A real-life Lockheed. The small, purple dragon makes its appearance as the companion to Rasputin (as opposed to Shadowcat in the comics, but who cares about canon and source material at this point) and helps the gang in fighting Demon Bear in the 'climax' of the movie.
The New Mutants is now out in cinemas.