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The New Mutants

The New Mutants

2020 | Josh Boone

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.

Average rating   5 out of 10

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Benjamin Lykkegaard Schmidt     2021-01-28 5 out of 10

New Mutants is the latest - and the last - X-Men universe movie by Fox, before the Disney acquisition of the studio. New Mutants is (very) loosely based on a story arc from the Marvel comic book of the same name, written by Chris Claremont and pencilled by Bill Sienkiewicz. 


The story starts out with our main character - Dani Moonstar - being waked up by her father, because the Indian reservation which they live in, is apparently under attack by an unknown force. Dani then watches her father die, gets knocked out and the wakes up in a strange and mysterious hospital. A doctor then explains to her that the hospital she finds herself in, is designed to help young, new mutants to get their powers under control. After she meets the only four other patients in the hospital, they quickly find out that not everything is as it seems, as each of them starts to get haunted by strange visions. The five main characters must then figure out why they are trapped and how to escape, meanwhile dealing with their troubled past. 

First I want to talk about the genre of the movie. The movie has the interesting premise of trying to be a horror movie with superheroes. But, in this case, trying is unfortunately not enough. Every time a supposed horror scene starts, it feels like the movie starts pulling it's breaks, in fear of becoming scary. It never takes the full leap of making a horror scene, and it ends up feeling like the movie is fighting itself in what it wants to be. I was very sad and dissapointed to see that, because when I first saw the trailer for the movie, I got excited. Finally a superhero movie that does something new and bold! But alas. 


But aside from the arguably failed horror attempt, the movie has several qualities. The main one being it's very compelling main characters, with the standout character being Illyana Rasputin/Magik played by the very talented actress Anya Taylor-Joy. When the viewer is first introduced to her, she comes off as an unlikable, arrogant a-hole. She constantly antagonises Dani Moonstar, and is an all-around troublemaker. But when you eventually learn about her past and who she is, you start to sympathise with her. It also feels like it is this character the writers of the movie fell in love with, as it in the end is her character that gets the most treatment and development.

Aside from her great character development, she also has a very cool design, that is reminiscent of the comic book counterpart. But not only is her design very cool, but the way she teleports and opens portals to Limbo, is just damn gorgeous. This applies to all the designs in the movie. If you're a comic book fan (like me) it's hard not to be filled with joy, when the Demon Bear shows up, and looks almost exactly like Bill Sienkiewicz drew it back in 1984.  


But while the movie has these great designs, it suffers from fairly low-budget visual effects. More often than not you don't notice the subpar effects because too much is happening on the screen, for them to be distracting. But when the movie occasionally has a close-up of the CGI, the poor effects are painfully distracting, and just ends up hurting the otherwise great designs. 


But the movie's biggest flaw is actually it's short runtime. While the characters are compelling they aren't fleshed out as good as they could - and should - be. When the credits starts to roll, it feels like you hadn't got to know all the characters properly yet. One of the most forsaken characters is Sam Guthrie/Cannonball. His backstory is basically only glanced over, and then we are off to the next character. Besides from some of the characters not getting the treatment and attention they deserve, the story is extremely quickly resolved. Throughout the movie there are basically two antagonists. But during the climax of the movie, both of the these antagonists' storylines are resolved with a quick, cheap stroke. 


The New Mutants was originally envisioned to be the first movie in a trilogy. But then the Disney acquisition of Fox happened, and the plans for a trilogy were scrapped altogether, even though this movie was still happening. This results in the movie actually setting up a trilogy, that will never happen. This makes the movie a bittersweet watch, because near the end of the movie, things are revealed that points to a greater story, which unfortunately will never be told. This naturally hurts the movie's plot and conclusion, because the viewer are left with unanswered questions. 

So, my verdict.. The New Mutants are a mixed bag of goods. It has compelling characters, cool character designs and a decent - if not simple - story, but ultimately feels like the prologue of a story that will never be told. The movie is unable to stand well on it's own legs because of it's underdeveloped characters and unresolved plot points. While the movie has occasionally great action, it suffers from poor CGI. The movie constantly flirts with the horror genre, but unfortunately never dares to take the full leap. 





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