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Review: The New Mutants (2020)

The New Mutants (2020)

Directed by: Josh Boone

Premise: A spinoff of the X-Men series. After surviving a supernatural disaster, a young woman (Blu Hunt) with unknown powers is boarded at an institution for teenage mutants. The young people are haunted by threatening visions and suspect the facility staff has nefarious plans.

What Works: The New Mutants is the last of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men films. Rights to the mutant franchise returned to Marvel following Disney’s acquisition of Fox but the studio’s two decade custodianship of the X-Men produced a lot of movies of varying quality. The New Mutants is a unique entry in Fox’s X-Men franchise. While it contains some of the familiar themes of the series, it does not feel like any of the other films. The tone of The New Mutants is quite different, at times playing more like a supernatural horror film than a superhero adventure, and at the very least the filmmakers have created a different kind of X-Men film.

What Doesn’t: The filmmakers of The New Mutants appear to have entered into this movie with earnest intentions but they did not succeed. The movie suffers from a host of problems. The visual effects are wildly inconsistent. A few of the images are extraordinary and others look terrible especially Illyana Rasputin’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) pet dragon which looks like Yoshi from the Super Mario Bros video game. The mutant powers are not very imaginative. We’ve seen most of their talents before like flying or turning into fire and others are silly like Illyana Rasputin’s metal sword arm. The characters are uninteresting. Few of them have any distinguishing characteristics. The guys are flat and interchangeable while the young women are catty. The performances are uneven. Several of the actors are required to do accents and they don’t pull it off. Charlie Heaton’s Kentucky drawl sounds like a bad imitation of a southerner and Masie Williams’ Irish accent fades in and out. A lot of elements of the story don’t make sense. These teenage mutants, some of whom have dangerous powers, are held at an institution the size of a small college campus but there’s just one staff member managing the whole operation.  Why these teens are being held here is never addressed in a meaningful way. The story is predicated on these young people facing their fears and coming together at as a team. This isn’t done well. None of them really confront or overcome their trauma and the ending is anticlimactic and silly.

DVD extras: Commentary track, deleted scenes, featurettes, and trailers.

Bottom Line: The New Mutants was clearly intended to set up a new line of continuity in the X-Men film universe. Disney’s acquisition of Fox put an end to that but it’s just as well. This belated entry in Fox’s X-Men series is silly and sloppy.

Episode: #835 (January 17, 2021)