I really thought that this was going to be the film that I never ever got to see. It seemed like a lifetime ago when it was announced that Marvel were going to deliver The New Mutants. The film drew me in from the very first trailer. A superhero film with a horror edge, yes this was a film that was right in my strike zone and I just wanted to yell ‘shut up and take my money’ at the screen.
But then of course everything that could go wrong for the latest instalment of the X-Men franchise did go wrong. The studio thought it was too horror orientated and demanded a re-cut and then as horror films started to dominate the box office they suddenly wanted the horror element to be amplified so another re-cut was ordered. Then to top it all off, along came the apocalypse known as Covid-19 and once again The New Mutants saw its release date pushed back once again. Well, finally it lands and while it is not the masterpiece that I wanted it to be, it is good enough that I find myself hoping that it launches a fresh new direction for the X-Men universe.
Directed by Josh Boone (The Fault In Our Stars) The New Mutants centres around Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt – The Originals) a young girl who finds herself in the middle of cataclysmic event that takes the lives of her whole family and a lot of friends. Traumatised by the events, she wakes up in a facility being run by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga – I Am Legend) who says she is there to help a group of teenagers learn to control their abilities and she just has to discover what Dani’s are.
While taking in that information Dani also finds herself having to get to know the other ‘in-mates’ that include the friendly Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams – Game Of Thrones) and Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton – Stranger Things) while being on her guard around the aloof Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga – Looking For Alask,) who seems to have only one thing on his mind, and the aggressive Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch) who takes an instant disliking to Dani.
Possibly the best way I can describe The New Mutants to you is imagine a supernatural teen drama like Harry Potter and then ramp up the horror aspect of it. The result is a mix of Stranger Things and X-Men and to be honest, it works perfectly well.
Director/screenwriter Josh Boone never loses sight of the fact that he needs to build the characteristics of the characters here in a bid to get the audience to like them, and even though he manages to make Illyana intimidating and aggressive towards the film’s protagonist, he uniquely somehow makes her likable when she needs to be. There are certainly no one dimensional characters here, each characters has layer upon layer that needs to be peeled away for the audience to understand who they are and what they have been through to make them that way.
Any fan of the X-Men universe will easily see where this film is heading but at least Boone does make it a memorable journey to get to that point. He expertly juggles both genres needed to make the film work and his horror sequences work stunningly well with a nod to the Hush episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which Boone co-incidentally has his characters watching from time to time as well.
The young cast handle everything that is thrown at them and while you would hope that Anya Taylor-Joy works on her Russian accent should the series go forward, they all do a pretty decent job. Maisie Williams and Charlie Heaton are stand-outs, which you would expect to be a given due to their television experience, but the whole cast do need to be congratulated on such a fine effort.
The New Mutants is so good that we can now only pray that they decide to go ahead with the series either as films or on TV. Either way this breath of fresh air in the X-Men franchise needs to keep going.