Starring: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Blu Hunt
Director: Josh Boone
Running Time: 98 mins
The New Mutants is an American film about a girl who is brought to a mysterious facility for young people with superhuman powers after an attack on her home reservation, and soon finds herself discovering her own abilities along with a group of other young mutants.
Delayed so many times over the last three years that it seemed more likely that hell would freeze over before I saw this film, The New Mutants has become a hotly-anticipated and mysterious prospect. After all that waiting, though, I can’t say that the movie lives up to its potential.
A messy and unfortunately drab watch, the film struggles to inspire the imagination with its spin-off of the X-Men stories. Lacking atmosphere, tension and character depth, it’s a pretty mediocre movie that, while not a total disaster, clearly isn’t able to use its brightest ideas to the full.
And that’s where I want to start, because although The New Mutants is hardly a masterpiece, the effects of its many reshoots and production issues is wholly apparent throughout. As a result, its faults can’t be entirely attributed to director Josh Boone, because there’s a definite clash between a darker, more cerebral story from Boone and something a little more generic from the film’s new owners, Disney.
These sorts of issues are inevitable under such circumstances, and it really bears out as the film briefly introduces really interesting ideas surrounding the history of the facility the story takes place in, but then just drops them in favour of a generic action finale – reminiscent of the struggles of the infamous Fant4stic.
Saying that, however, there are major problems with this movie all the way through. Above all, it’s a really drab, dull watch that does little to use the potential of its setting to tell a unique superhero story.
With a small cast in a contained setting, The New Mutants has all the potential to work as a hybrid haunted house/comic book movie, yet it lacks any sort of fear factor, tension or atmosphere to really put that into effect. Meanwhile, the film is frustratingly content with using an overtly grey colour palette to make things look moody, yet without really doing enough to bring a genuine sense of eeriness or claustrophobia into play.
Failing that, The New Mutants also had the potential to work as a coming-of-age take on the superhero genre. Following young mutants discovering their powers and how to control them, the film’s central themes fit perfectly with the genre, but the screenplay is nowhere near layered enough to make that drama at all interesting.
All of the characters are painfully one-dimensional; each a stereotype among the wider group in a vain attempt to play off the legacy of The Breakfast Club. As a result, there’s little reason to actually invest emotion into connecting with the characters, because there isn’t much to uncover beneath the surface.
And because of that, the film’s story, action and main villain are all far less effective than could have otherwise been the case. Linking into each of the characters’ back stories and deepest fears, there should have been far more focus placed on the emotions of the main characters.
But with no way to form a genuine connection with anyone on screen, The New Mutants falls flat throughout, and the final act in particular lacks any genuine intensity or excitement, unfolding as a painfully drab and generic action climax with nothing to really grab your attention.
Overall, I was disappointed by The New Mutants. Though it isn’t a total disaster, it has all the hallmarks of a film that has been wrangled back and forth between different owners with different sets of ideas. It’s messy, dull and unfortunately drab throughout, missing the opportunity to develop its best ideas as it plumps for a more generic, one-dimensional action story. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.7.