During an interview with Empire in March 2020, director of ‘The New Mutants’ Josh Boone stated that “things can only go up after Dark Phoenix,” the previous X-Men film to bomb critically and commercially. He was wrong.
After five delays and over two years from its original release date, ‘The New Mutants’ is here to close out the Fox X-Men universe with a generic, drawn-out whimper.
The film focuses on five young mutants inside of a pseudo psychiatric hospital which acts as a prison to keep them all contained. The protagonist, Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt), moves into this facility after the residents of her village are slaughtered by a massive bear. This begins a pattern of strange events as characters witness their worst fears become reality.
Right off the bat, the performances are atrocious. Maisie Williams (‘Game of Thrones’), Anya Taylor-Joy (‘The Witch’) and Charlie Heaton (‘Stranger Things’) all put on the most bizarre accents throughout the film that take away from the weight or seriousness of anything they say.
Apart from that, the line delivery is flat in almost every scene and it is abundantly clear there was no passion from anyone regarding the project; it feels as though the movie was recorded in one take. There is a pain present in the eyes of every single actor within this movie, it’s no surprise that Maisie Williams mocked the film’s lacklustre reviews on her Twitter shortly after its release.
It’s also worth noting that every shot within the film feels purposeless. Scenes from previous X-Men movies, (such as 2018’s excellent ‘Logan’), are thrown in to fill time, effects are not properly finished and camera angles are as generic as they come.
The action scenes could put you to sleep with the over abundance of awful, unfinished CGI, which could be found in an episode of a series from the 90s like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ The CGI is played on a badly cropped, obvious green screen, only adding to the lazy and uninspired set design.
Additionally, the movie is unsure about what it wants to be on a fundamental level. The trailers and synopsis declared a horror film but every scene is brightly lit like a rom-com.
The movie is primarily focused on the relationships between the New Mutants with the occasional cheap scare thrown in. Moonstar has the ability to create a horror movie. Her power allows the deepest, darkest fears of other characters to manifest physically. However, this is never taken true advantage of and it only typically leads to flashback sequences that go on for two minutes at best. The scariest part of ‘The New Mutants’ is the fact that it is only 1 hour and 40 minutes long and yet it feels like a never ending time vortex.
Taylor-Joy’s character Magik is the only bright spot within the film, in spite of the horrible accent used by the actress as mentioned above. The CGI used to create her powers is, for the most part, well done and her backstory as well as her abilities are interesting enough to keep you somewhat engaged with the plot. I can’t help but feel as though there is an origin movie missing for this character, or at least a version of ‘The New Mutants’ that more squarely features her as the protagonist and as the driving force behind the plot.
In summary, ‘The New Mutants’ is a slow, uninspired drag that feels vaguely drawn up by a boardroom. It’s a shame the once great Fox X-Men universe has to fizzle out like this when it could have ended on a massive, natural high with 2017’s ‘Logan,’ but it is what it is. Don’t go risk your life to see ‘The New Mutants,’ stay home instead.
Liam Ferguson – Film reviewer