The New Mutants15¦ 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD
There’s not much positive that has come from the global pandemic, but surely one of them has to be the quieting of superhero films. By now, in a healthier clime, we would have already been subjected to a number of comic book characters springing to life yet again on the big screen, but luckily Covid-19 came to the rescue on that particular front.
It could already be considered that some of the shine of the superhero genre has already started to wear thin, with a number of TV shows being axed (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Arrow, Gotham, Watchmen etc.), but with the House of Mouse now being the owner of Marvel, the studio is already ramping up a number of titles for its Disney + streaming service.
That’s not to say superheroes are no longer welcome, but it does feel like that some severe quality control should be taking place, before full on comic book hero fatigue sets in. Certainly this poor effort isn't going to help any.
After surviving a tornado destroying her family reservation, young Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) finds herself in a peculiar facility run by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga). The reason for her being there is that she, like the four other teens on the premises, is suspected to have mutant powers.
Once she gets to know Rahne (Maisie Williams), Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto (Henry Zaga), she learns that the facility is studying them to see if they could one day join the ranks of the X-Men. But as time passes, they start to reconsider why exactly they’re being kept there, and that it may not have anything to do with the world of heroism after all.
Despite the film’s ironic title, there is absolutely nothing new here, as it’s about as generic as a film about young mutants gets. It also doesn’t help that it just feels so flat and desperately uncompelling. Perhaps it’s the fact that it spends far too much of its time being a generic teen drama, with all the overflowing angst that comes with it, like The Breakfast Club for teen mutants.
By the time it does introduce the mutant element, its involving characters that have yet to be established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making it difficult to relate to any of them. Without anything substantial gelling them together, like being new recruits for the X-Men, it’s just a bunch of unappealing teens locked up together in a dull environ. And although it certainly works as a standalone Marvel film, it lacks both passion and energy, making it one of the worst entries in the canon.
The film also isn’t helped by having such a small cast. The locale is quite big for having five teens and one adult rattling around inside of it. In that sense, the film leans more into the conventions of a dour teen horror flick than a superhero title. But even in doing that, it doesn’t do itself any favours.
Certainly the talented young cast deserved better, particularly Williams and Taylor-Joy, but with director Josh Boone having only directed two other films, both of which were romantic flicks, he was clearly out of his depth in the Marvel universe.
It’s both a surprise and a relief that this film allegedly acts as the thirteenth and final instalment in the X-Men franchise. And as final acts go, this is a truly tepid and uninspiring one. Although the characters involved are all rather bland and dull, the story at least had the opportunity to deliver something new, by exploring the darker side of mutant powers. However Boone clearly wasn’t up to it, happier in his skillset to play to the generic inexperienced teenagers storyline, where the biggest struggle for most of them has been in kissing girls.
If The New Mutants teaches us only one thing, it would be that not all superheroes are considered equal, and that in a post Covid-19 world, studios may have to try a lot harder to save the day/world, with both heroes and villains with more substantial tales to tell than this.