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. (from IMDb)
Although The New Mutants is rumored to be set in the 1990's, everything about it screams "2020." Hollywood continues to push gender boundaries (why?) and even the content that can be put into a movie, and The New Mutants feels like a product of this. It's got the angsty teen 80's and 90's feel going for it, that does work at times, but other aspects don't feel like a natural fit. Take for example the film's central love story. A troubled teen named Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) is revealed to have special powers when an evil force invades her town. She then wakes up in a creepy, secluded medical facility with other teens who she finds also have special abilities. One of these fellow inmates is Rahne Sinclair (Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams), who is shy but takes a strange interest in Dani. The two quickly strike up a friendship which just as quickly (and oddly) turns romantic, and it never really feels natural. But, in a way, that kind of sums up the feel of the entire film.
While it's hardly boring, very little about The New Mutants seems to click. They set up Dani's powers as kind of a mystery, and weird things start happening in the facility that seem to have begun as soon as Dani arrived. But it soon becomes about the characters facing their greatest, most disturbing fears, as quite literally their nightmares start coming to life (coincidentally, the plot of fears being brought to life by a magical power is exactly the plot of a creepy 1987 DuckTales episode called "Nothing to Fear"). I understand that it's based on a popular comic book story, but when you see what it is they end up fighting during the film's climax, it might seem a little more ridiculous than awesome. Still, the movie does have moments and characters that work, and everyone involved clearly puts in the effort (I thought Charlie Heaton, who I know solely because of Stranger Things, was great as Sam, but his character felt a little underdone). But storywise, the film is missing something, and it's quite possible that the filmmakers also knew this and just couldn't figure out what it was or how to fix it. Some of the subplots feel underdeveloped, especially the stories behind the nightmares that haunt the film's teens. The movie's connection to the X-Men universe is also pretty thin. They teased a closer affiliation during the film, but end up not following through on it (Although I'm not quite sure it's needed, to be honest. I was a mix of disappointed and excited when they name-dropped the X-Men, but it made the film's darker revelations more impactful). The movie barely crosses the 90-minute mark, and one has to wonder if a little longer running time could have helped flesh the story out a bit. (Where Wonder Woman 1984 was in desperate need of a running time trimming, this one could probably have benefitted from 15 to 20 minutes more material.)
The content in the film definitely plays up the PG-13 horror genre with plenty of bloody scrapes and cuts, a ghostly burned corpse, and ghastly eyeless-and-large-mouthed creepy creatures. Anya Taylor-Joy's Illyana Rasputin uses the "F" word twice earlier in the film, and there is quite a bit of other profanity and blasphemy along the way. There are two shower scenes with Rahne, showing her bare back and shoulders, and one of them where Dani is also there and we see her bare back and brief side of her chest. The two girls also share a few kisses in a scene where they star gaze, and then again later. There's also a subplot where we learn that Rahne was tortured / abused by a priest who considered her a witch because she has the ability to turn into a wolf. And when Dani is being shown around the facility, a character tells her "This is the chapel, if you believe in that "s--t." The filmmakers are none too subtle about where they stand on the subject of spiritual matters.
For a horror-flavored superhero film, The New Mutants entertains, but it doesn't deliver much to make it worth revisiting. As an X-Men film, it's definitely bottom tier, falling somewhere in line with arguably the franchise's lowest point, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. If you're a diehard fan of anyone in the cast, a fan of this particular comic book series, or one who must see every X-Men related piece of cinema, you might enjoy The New Mutants... otherwise, I'm pretty sure your time is better spent elsewhere (if not with the "old" mutants).- John DiBiase (reviewed: 1/20/21)
Deleted Scenes (10:53) - There are seven deleted scenes, with a Play All option. In the first scene, we see Dani climbing the tower (and Rahne follows) while Illy and Berto hang around together outside. Next, there's a brief moment where Dani and Rahne check out Illyís room (and get caught). The following scene shows Berto joining Dani in the cafeteria to get to know her and flirt with her. Dani tells him he's not her type, which is clearly an attempt to establish her lesbian leanings. The fourth deleted scene is an alternate version of Dani's nightmare (which can be seen in the film's trailer). When she's in her room, we see faces pushing in through the walls (like they were bed sheets and not solid). She then sees her face on the ground talking back to her. It's creepy, albeit kind of silly. The next scene shows Sam and Berto playing basketball. Berto starts to "overheat" and tells Sam he needs to cool off (but none of the other kids know yet that he can burst into flames). Next, Dr. Reyes tells the team theyíre on lockdown, and the final deleted scene shows a little more from when they decide to go after Dr. Reyes near the film's finale (1 "b*tch").
Origins & Influences (7:28) - Here the cast and crew talk about how the film is based on the "Demon Bear" comic storyline. They explain that their intentions for the film was to mix the DNA of an X-Men movie, and a teen story, with horror.
Meet The New Mutants (7:17) - Here, the cast and crew talk about each other and who their characters are.
Finally, the extras are rounded out with a feature-length Audio Commentary where director Josh Boone interviews The New Mutants comic creator Bill Sienkiewicz (1:34:02) and two Theatrical Trailers (where you can see some of the more horror-focused elements of the film).- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 1/20/21)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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