The New Mutants Review

August 30, 2020 at 2:52pm
By Jason Stettner

This was definitely a film I had been anticipating for a long time. Not in the sense that I was excited for its arrival, but that I had a morbid curiosity about what the shape of this would be like after so many schedule shuffles and delays. I suppose that aspect of this movie; the road to release, is the part of it that will be most memorable in the long term. Whatever the case, it’s nice to see that Fox was sort of on the right track with X-Men. This is very much a standalone release, that would have built up a smaller part of the overall universe.

A definite intimate tale in a smaller setting where the end of the world was not at stake. I think that instantly makes this more intriguing, yet at the same time they didn’t do much with it. This narrative follows a group of younger Mutants that are trying to discover their powers while being locked into a secure hospital location. It’s more like an insane asylum, but the idea is that they’re being helped to better understand their abilities. There are of course some mysterious elements to this that are discovered over time and you would think this might be a tad scary or at least a thriller in tone.

It really isn’t, it sort of mashes a number of things and isn’t very good at presenting any of them. It’s rather boring, and it didn’t take long for me not to be on board and to become rather bored of what was going on. I was under the impression this would lean into being a horror film to some degree, and it really isn’t. They touch on things that could be, but never go all in on that. It’s just kind of a slow generic action movie with some stranger Mutant abilities in play.

I think that’s a shame, as I liked the cast and their weird quirks. It just didn’t do a whole lot, and there wasn’t much of a story. It fell into a similar trap of other hero films towards the latter part of the film and this is all I’ll mention of that as not to spoil things. It’s somewhat trying to be heartfelt which was ok, but there’s just something about this mashing of genres or ideas that doesn’t feel very satisfying. It created very stale individuals that don’t do a whole lot and then it ends.
The New Mutants Wallpaper brothers
I thought the acting was generally fine. They chose an interesting lead considering the names on the cast, but she wasn’t necessarily that interesting in her performance. I think I was generally so-so on the performances here the more I think about it. The heavily accented Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) or the messed up youth of Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy) were both ok.

I don’t think anyone particularly stood out, aside from the group having a decent level of chemistry within them. There really needed to be more interactions, or something to pad out the group’s time together further. It just felt like such a straight forward time the whole way through hitting each beat you would expect it to. Never any twists, or turns. They telegraph what’s going to happen, and I think it hurts because of that. The atmosphere is just sort of somber, not scary or even exciting.

Those darker building blocks were all there, even talked about yet never used to their full extent which was ultimately disappointing. I liked the theme that was present at the start and at the end, that was neat and matched the main character’s unique back story. I just don’t think the execution here really took this story where it needed to go. When it comes to the look of the film, things were mostly lightly grim with the powers being done decently well. The final sort of confrontation didn’t look very good, the CGI was quite bad there.

The Conclusion

The New Mutants is a rather boring, generic and short look at this more intimate tale in the X-Men universe that could have been so much more. I had really expected an actual horror film, and it doesn’t ever come close to presenting even an eerie feeling. There was something off about this really early on, and that feeling carried through across the entire movie. It’s really hard to describe, but it just didn’t tonally hit the mark.

It wasn’t very interesting either, though the heartfelt aspects were intriguing yet perhaps half-baked as well. It didn’t particularly stand out visually, but I liked the powers of the group within this confinement. I think more time was needed with them to care about their problems. They could have been more mysterious about things as everything is right in your face and there were just a series of problems that made this feel almost tedious to watch.

It’s not even a very long film, and yet it felt like it stretched on which I think is a serious problem. These are young Mutants with messed up problems that are likely scared or have been left scarred. There’s such rich material to use here, and it feels wasted. Well, that’s the end of the Fox era of X-Men material. A random one-off that teased a potentially interesting series of smaller more intimate tales. Well, that’ll never come to be and this film didn’t build a case for why it should be carried forward.

The New Mutants Poster
The New Mutants Review at Theater with Standard Viewing

Rating Overall: 4.2

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner