‘The New Mutants’ Hints At New Life For X-Men, But Tries To Do Too Much

Before Disney acquired the studio, Fox has had a storied cinematic history with the X-Men franchise. Many fans would consider it to be an up and down experience. From the 2000 team up and inception of the cinematic universe, X-Men which brought about a renewed faith in comic book movies, the unsuccessful cracks at the Dark Phoenix saga with X-Men: The Last Stand and Dark Phoenix, and the gritty and heartbreaking Logan. We can use many adjectives about Fox’s handling of the X-Men lore, but their 13 film tenure has different flavors to it. 

To say that it’s been a long, winding road for The New Mutants to see a release would be an understatement. After an initial teaser trailer that highlighted the movie’s horror themes set to Pink Floyd‘s ‘Another Brick In The Wall,’ and an April 13th, 2018 release date set, this poor movie would be delayed four times before settling on August 28th, 2020. Some tagged New Mutants as being ‘cursed,’ rumored reshoots, and even Hulu acquisition rumors at some point. However, director Josh Boone‘s take on a new crop of younger mutants saw the light of day. 

After spending so much time with the likes of Professor X and Wolverine, it was refreshing to explore other characters within the X-Men universe. The New Mutants begins with Danielle “Dani” Moonstar (Blu Hunt) running away from a tornado with her father, William (Adam Beach). There’s something more nefarious that kills William right in front of Dani and suddenly, Dani wakes up in a facility. She meets Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga) who informs her that despite nobody surviving at her reservation, the place that she is now is a safe haven. 

For much of New Mutants, Dani’s story serves as the main planetary pull to which the other characters gravitate to. She deals with the grief of losing her father, invokes the strengths of her Native American heritage to make sense of everything, and trying to figure out what her powers are. Through this exploration, each character’s origin story (or fear) is revealed to the audience when they aren’t inside these Breakfast Club-like therapy sessions. Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy) has powers of sorcery, Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) can turn into a wolf, Samuel “Sam” Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) can propel himself at dizzying speeds, and Roberto “Bobby” da Costa (Henry Zaga) uses solar energy. Even Dr. Reyes has powers herself with an ability to make energy barriers. 

Much of this movie follows the other set pieces of other X-Men films. This collective of mutants is told that they have to control their powers to not be a danger to the outside world. There is an internal power struggle within the group (initially between Illyana and Dani), and the need to understand what this isolated hospital really is. They show each of the fears in the same fashion. As Dani comes under stress, each of the other character’s nightmare scenarios is shown in a vivid and dreamlike fashion – much to where they become more real as she gets stronger. 

Josh Boone draws from his previous experience from 2014’s The Fault In Our Stars in developing the love story between Dani and Rahne. It’s the heart center of the film. They pepper hints at their romance in the beginning (Rahne watching a Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s ‘The Body‘ episode and sees the kiss between Willow and Tara). Dani is picked on and ostracized by the others upon her arrival and Rahne attempts to understand and help her. The romance between them feels natural and sweet. It’s one point of happiness in what we can consider an overall negative experience for both characters. 

When the movie shows its twist within the third act, it’s not necessarily a surprise revelation based on how the structure of the film supplants itself. Each of the five has been influenced by using their powers accidentally on somebody they care about, a hardship they had to endure, or losing someone close to them. While the teens have collective dreams of joining the X-Men, their history and the shadowy entity that runs the facility has other nefarious plans. The slight revelation of whom this maybe is a nod to the X-Men comics and what would have been a wink to other sequels. Otherwise, it slightly collides with Dani’s overall story briefly, but not explained enough. New Mutants takes place in mostly one setting, and while the movie tries to make the best of it, there’s a lot of reoccurrences that take place.  

The action set pieces, specifically towards the end with the Demonbear manifestation, are entertaining. New Mutants provides enough story where the actors are dialed into their characters. However, what ultimately stifles New Mutants is its ambition to embody many things within the film. It tries to be a romance, coming of age story, quick shock horror, and a drama all in one package. Instead of exploring a couple of themes to their full potential, the movie tries to cover all bases, which take away from the overall narrative.

With the movie being a PG-13 rating, the horror aspect cannot reach its full potential – it’s as the movie had to settle on quick cuts of jump scares you would find in a haunted house film. The prospect of an X-Men film being within the horror genre was an exciting prospect. As the franchise is now in the hands of Disney, viewing New Mutants makes you think of what that inception of Fox could have done if they could take the chances they did with Deadpool and Logan

Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios

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Author: Murjani Rawls View all posts by
Journalist, Self-published author of five books, podcast host, and photographer since 2014, Murjani Rawls has been stretching the capabilities of his creativity and passions, Rawls has as a portfolio spanning through many mediums including music, television, movies, and more. Operating out of the New York area, Rawls has photographed over 200+ artists spanning many genres, written over 700 articles ranging displaying his passionate aspirations to keep evolving as his years in media continue.

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