The New Mutants is a superhero horror movie directed by Josh Boone. The final movie in the Fox X-Men franchise series, The New Mutants is loosely based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name, in particular the Demon Bear Saga that ran from #18 – #20, in the 80s.
Originally slated for a 2018 release date, the movie was delayed numerous times before its eventual release on August 28, 2020. A modest box-office return of over $45 million was realised, as the global pandemic had an obvious impact on attendances worldwide.
While its premise held promise – the idea of combining superhero tropes with horror elements was unique – the movie was poorly executed. From the plotting to the characterisations, there is nothing interesting about The New Mutants that recommends itself. In fact, Boone and his collaborators botch that unique premise completely. In the end, The New Mutants is a boring superhero movie with horror sequences that are not scary at all!
From a superhero movie perspective, the movie cannot decide whether it wants to stand apart from the X-Men franchise or whether it wants to leverage on the connections. There are allusions to the Essex Corporation that turned up at the end of X-Men : Apocalypse and Logan but these ties are never developed.
The characters are badly presented as well. From the viewpoint of superhero fiction writing, the movie does an abysmal job in adapting these strong characters as originally conceived by writer Chris Claremont. Boone obviously has no clue how to make the characters work and thus they are reduced to ciphers and it is impossible for the audience to engage with them.
The plot does not fare any better. It makes no sense that Doctor Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga) is able to keep the titular characters captive against their will. This is even more pronounced when you consider the immense power of characters like Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga), Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams) and Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy). Typical sloppy superhero fiction writing.
In addition, it is unclear as to how the Demon Bear – the secondary antagonist – fits into the scheme of things as well. The fact that there are two villains of the piece actually reduces the impact of the conflict. Neither are written well enough to capture the attention of the audience, to create the tension a horror movie sorely needs.
The so-called nightmare scenarios brought about by the mirage powers of Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) are not remotely frightening. Time and again, the characters are shown to be strong and brave but fall to pieces in nightmarish dream sequences that do not seem scary at all. Utterly illogical.
To be honest, the only character that made any sense and stole every scene she was in was Taylor-Joy’s Magik. Although, her irrational fear was not given any logical basis, at least the character was a bad ass and looked cool, even if Illyana was criminally under-developed too. Hopefully, Taylor-Joy will return as Magik in a Disney+ series. Make it so, Kevin Feige!
In the final analysis, The New Mutants was a colossal waste of time, money and effort. The only good thing is the realisation that Fox can no longer do harm to these mutant characters any more! Avoid!!
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