Let me just start this review with the obligatory notice. This review is not me encouraging or dissuading anyone from going to the theater at this time. This is merely my take on a movie itself that is only available in a theater setting at the moment.
So after years of talks, footage, and rescheduling, The New Mutants has finally come, and what pains me the most about it is its impression on me is already fading. Part of the last batch of X-Men movies made under the 20th Century Fox reign, I really had hoped that the franchise would go out on at least a passable note. I would blame my expectations but no matter how much I tried, I simply couldn’t find much to wrap my head around with this one.
After a tragedy leaves her without a home or family, Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt) wakes up in a strange and remote medical facility. Not to mention quiet. The only employee is Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga) who explains that she is there to help Danielle and others like her control their mutant powers. I think at least one secret power should be how with only one employee, the facility and grounds remain so tidy. We see one of the other patients doing the dishes but otherwise, the teens are more content to vandalize, sneak, and render Reyes inept as one person watching five patients night and day is a daunting task. Indeed, Reyes had more character in Logan for twenty minutes than she does for over an hour in this movie. There comes a moment that’s meant to be a throwback to sci-fi classics like Alien and I can only imagine how much better this film would be if it managed to touch on the atmosphere or detail of those.
Blu does her best and the rest of the cast is made up of truly talented actors such as Stranger Things Charlie Heaton, but the movie doesn’t hit the right balance of teenage drama and horror one would hope for. Its sweeter moments are decent, such as when Blu and Rahne (Maisie Williams) gaze up at the energy field keeping them locked away or Roberto (Henry Zaga), the designated jock, actually starts to feel vulnerable, but those moments are too few, far and in between. The traumas these youths have experienced are addressed in very phoned-in flashbacks. Director Josh Boone has done well with such material before with The Fault in Our Stars, but here, the characters, like the plot, seem to be going through the motions of what could’ve been a great movie.
This was supposed to be a bit of a horror film and I guess it can be labeled as one considering a few creatures appear that are supposed to be frightening or revolting but I honestly didn’t care for them. There was only one real CGI moment that caught my attention when Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), the designated trouble-maker, begins to put the group first and faces off against an enemy with a sword and adorable companion. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled but even in the past year there’ve been plenty of delightful monsters and at least one dark superhero movie with Brightburn. In short, this film had potential and the end result is, something without teeth or feeling.
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