The New Mutants (2020)
Directed by: Josh Boone Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins
Studio: 20th Century Studios Screenwriter: Josh Boone, Knate Lee
Cast: Maisie Williams, Blu Hunt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Alice Braga
Movies adapted or based on comics have a wealth of material to work with when choosing which direction to take when crafting a script. Some characters, or ensembles, have exceeded expectations at the box office. Others have crashed and burned, making audiences cringe, even purging the experience from their memory. The New Mutants, however, created a whole new category, scripts that should be used as toilet paper. The numerous trailers are misleading as fook. I cringe even adding one.
The New Mutants is a spin-off series of the popular X-Men comic, so it has its spot in the comic world. It has no place in any cinematic universe. This film isn’t a hot mess because it was delayed due to Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox, including the X-Men film franchise. It sucks because writers Josh Boone and Knate Lee wrote a shit script. Fox being attached to it in some way is a curse, too; I mean, there are those other X-Men films we want to forget about. Fox let those happen…
Writer and director Josh Boone said in a Screen Rant interview he wanted younger people who feel like outsiders to see this (when it was in theaters), to see themselves reflected in it. To reflect the darker artwork of the The New Mutants series. Well, it does have a depressing, worn down, hopeless vibe going on in the film. It’s not a compliment. If I was a younger viewer, I wouldn’t want to relate to any of these characters. The X-Men comics and films reflect guilt when appropriate for damage or harm when a younger person’s mutant abilities manifest. The New Mutants do not.
Dr. Reyes (Braga) is this “doctor” in charge of keeping these teenagers safe. New mutants can be a danger to themselves and others and need to learn control. That is easy enough to accept, but not when she’s the only person in a dilapidated holding camp, essentially. Unlike the minor afflictions or damage the X-Men characters caused before learning control, none of them had blood on their hands. That aspect is a fresh perspective and an honest one, never previously explored in comic films to date. Moving on from that and finding a place in the world is not the intended outcome for these five characters.
I liked the idea of what to do with such mutants because let’s be honest, why would it not happen like that? Instead, our five teenagers are tested and assessed for possible inclusion in Dr. Reyes’s superior’s facility. A man who knows when a person manifests in their mutant ability, which is how they found Dani (Hunt). Fans might infer she means Charles Xavier. Given conversations between Dani and Illyanna (Taylor-Joy), it’s obvious this takes place well after X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Also, Dr. Reyes works for the Essex Corporation. If this film hadn’t bombed at the box office, that villain tidbit could have introduced the X-Men into the MCU. It’s safe to say The New Mutants will not be that inlet.
The opening sequence in this film seems like it was chosen because they forgot to shoot the beginning of this film before running out of budget and time. Plenty of films out there require the audience to pay attention right out the gate and catch on shortly after. This movie’s beginning, however, misses the mark. It’s as if I started the film by selecting some random chapter in the movie and started from there.
Most of the film is slow and offers nothing meaningful, even with the character’s worst memories coming to life. The fight scene at the end of this is a weird patchwork of those memories coming after them. The thing from the begging of the film (that was never really explained) shows up again too. It feels forced as Boone tries to have everyone’s origins come full circle, offering closure and self-esteem boosts.
While I am familiar with some of the cast and know they can act, this film does nothing for any of them. These teenage characters are portrayed as angsty, suicidal, depressed, and confrontational, on top of how they ended up in this facility. It’s a bit on the nose. Even with their feelings resolved some, it’s a stretch to say this movie is for the outsider YA fanbase. Every X-Men film has done better at that. The inclusion of an openly gay relationship between two teenage characters is not enough to save a movie with no clear definition of what it is.
The New Mutants is tagged as a horror/fantasy film. Slightly creepy and messed up, yes. Scary? Not a fucking chance. It’s more horrifying that Disney continued to greenlight this train wreck after they acquired Fox.
If I didn’t know that this ensemble was a spin-off from the X-Men comics, I would curse Josh Boone and Knate Lee for associating this film with vestiges of the X-Men universe. It’s beyond embarrassing. I feel bad for the actors who have this attached to their film biographies and that I wasted time watching it. While I yelled and cursed when watching X-Men: Last Stand and X-Men: Dark Phoenix, they at least had better stories, pace, character development, and action. I’d rewatch them than ever watch The New Mutants again.
This movie should never be on your watchlist, not even if someone pays you.
—a pen lady