Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.
Was 'The New Mutants' Set Haunted?
Set in the X-men universe, the film follows teenage mutant Dani Moonstar, who is sent for treatment at a secret institution that means to cure her powers, along with four other teen mutants: Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Sunspot and Magik. Supervised by Dr. Cecilia Reyes to share their stories, each mutant's memories soon turn into terrifying realities based on their concerns about being held prisoner. From the start, this does seem like a pretty intriguing story to set up all of these fascinating characters, and to the film's credit, it does establish a lot about Dani's discovery of what her powers are supposed to be. Aided by a strong performance from newcomer Blu Hunt, Dani's lack of knowledge of her own true power and spiritual connection as a young indigenous woman are what make her the most sympathetic protagonist throughout the film's slow albeit short runtime. It also helps when the film gets really emotional by developing a very strong friendship between Dani and Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), especially based on Rahne's insecurities with great power and feelings towards Dani.
With that said, the one make or break deal for viewers coming into the movie blind is the familiarity with the X-men franchise and the admittedly generic plot. It's not hard to predict what might happen in a movie where a new girl is brought into an asylum and isn't treated too well at first by all of their peers, and if not for the movie being in the horror genre, this would not be too different from any other coming of age teen dramedy. As for the issue regarding the X-men movies, while I do think this movie works as a stand alone film without knowing about any of the previous X-men movies, the whole connection leading to why Dr. Reyes is even controlling the mutants might need a bit more backing up from previous movies, or even comics for that matter. It doesn't help that while Alice Braga does her best intimidating role as Reyes, the character herself feels severely underdeveloped and one would almost wish the movie would spend just a little more time on how she feels about the mutants overall, especially when a good chunk of them are either brats or emotionally scarred forever.
On the plus side, while the movie does fall short in the substance department, it does have a very solix albeit dragged on climax which could lead to more interesting stories with these mutants later on. Sadly, those plans might not happen given the X-men being forged into the MCU (thanks Disney) and the film's poor financial performance, but one can certainly hope for future tales of teen discovery. As for other notable qualities, given that this is a lower budgeted superhero flick, the special effects are a bit more limited yet very cool to look at, almost as if director Josh Boone and the VFX crew really took advantage of the limitations to make the mutants' powers come off as believable as possible. Also, for a PG-13 horror movie, there are some genuinely messed up moments here and there that even startled myself, something that a lot of the more mature superhero movies don't quite do as often. It's really funny how this simple spinoff film managed to come off more sophisticated in its darkness than most mainstream Marvel fodder.
So while it doesn't look like New Mutants will be successful enough to warrant anymore potential storylines, I don't think what we got turned out as bad as people made it out to be. For all of its faults, there was a lot of passion, heart and even dedication put into this movie that might have been more successful had it been released before the global pandemic. I'm sure people have gotten jaded with X-men movies at this point, but even if you're not a fan, I would at least recommend giving this film a watch. It might not be your cup of tea, but it's worth a viewing or two just to give more attention to unique coming of age superhero tales.
- Apr 22, 2021