The New Mutants has been delayed many times over the past three years, but the film finally landed in theaters over the weekend and while not as bad as expected, it isn’t that good either. The New Mutants has so much potential that just can’t be reached in the format of a feature film. As the film progresses, and as the backstory of our characters gets addressed it becomes clear this would have worked better as a miniseries on a streaming platform.
The X-Men spinoff that fans have waited for may be enough for some but not all. The film starts off very slow but picks it up as the credits near. The New Mutants spend a lot of time letting viewers get to know and sympathize with our protagonists but they still feel underdeveloped. Directed and co-written by Josh Boone, the film stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, and Alice Braga. The New Mutants follows a group of five young mutants, who have just discovered their powers and are being kept in a facility. While coming to grips with their powers, the mutants attempt to escape the facility and their past sins in order to save themselves.
Our mutants consist of Danielle Moonstar (Hunt), Sam Guthrie (Heaton), Roberto da Costa (Zaga), Illyana Rasputin (Joy), and Rahne Sinclar (Williams). Dani is the first character introduced as her life gets turned upside down. She awakens in a facility where she meets the remaining mutants. Cecilia Reyes (Braga) is the mentor to the mutants and supposed doctor here to help them understand their powers. Dani has the power to create illusions based on the fears of others. Illyana has sorcery powers and can gain access to the soulsword. Sam has jet propulsion powers and is invulnerable during this activity. Rahne, who comes from a religious background can turn into a wolf. Roberto has the ability to manipulate solar energy. The script does a good job establishing that each mutant has an unfortunate background story, but only Dani gets the spotlight it seems overall.
Had this film landed on Netflix in the form of a miniseries then each character would feel more fleshed out, but the film establishes them enough where you can at least get on their side. The script uses a Buffy the Vampire Slayer scene to foreshadow a future event and that was a nice addition. Also, this shows how impactful that particular scene was when it aired on television. In fact, a lot of inspiration seems to be drawn from not only Buffy but Nightmare on Elm Street 3 as well. The performances are all solid but Joy steals the show as Illyana. Illyana is the most confident mutant, she has embraced her powers, comes off as a rebel and Joy portrays this with ease. Hunt is good as our central character Dani, and as mentioned her character is fleshed out the most because she spends most of the film trying to learn her power and move on from a tragedy.
Dr. Reyes is meant to be a threat, but Braga’s performance isn’t giving off anything resembling danger. It doesn’t help when she constantly references her superiors, so in a way, our primary villains aren’t present at all in the film. There is a larger threat presented in the end, but it just feels too last minute to care. The film is more concerned with the mutants but never makes it clear who a central villain will be so we get several small ones instead. The first two acts are good for what they are but then an action-packed finale occurs and it’s captured masterfully by Boone but he fails to add intensity to other moments in the film. Cinematographer Peter Deming effectively supports the overall narrative and the score by Mark Snow adds to the emotional aspects of the film.
The New Mutants’ adequate qualities sadly are held back by its poor qualities. It’s safe to say this won’t lead to a spinoff franchise as planned, so we will never know why there was only one doctor in this entire facility. However, the film still had several elements that worked in its favor, mostly the performances and the visual displays. This X-Men spinoff does enough to stand on its own but The New Mutants is mostly a bland version of Dream Warriors.