The New Mutants (2020)
20th Century Fox
Directed by: Josh Boone
Written by: Josh Boone, Knate Lee
Starring: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, Adam Beach, Thomas Kee
A Proper FOX X-Men Swan Song
It’s taken three long years and endless delays, but “The New Mutants” has finally arrived in theaters. Was it worth the wait? Short answer? Yes.
By no means is this film the next “Days of Future Past” but after everything this film has been through, most people are just thankful they’re able to see it at all. Though the film falls into some typical comic book movie traps, it has enough style and charisma to make up for its shortcomings.
Lead by a talented cast, some deeply touching relationships and pure heart-to-heart moments, “The New Mutants” is a film that does just enough to make it stand out.
Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams are the MVPs
This goes without saying, but Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams are easily the best performances on display. *Shocker*
Both actresses play their roles perfectly as Majik (Taylor-Joy), a foul-mouthed and hateful rebel and Wolfsbane (Williams), a shy but friendly rebel who’s taking an interest in Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt). They were rising stars in 2018 but are now established names and those acting chops are on full display here.
When this movie needed to be carried, they carried it. They owned every scene they were in and are completely committed to their craft. Now to be fair, every actor here gives semi-strong performances despite some weird dialogue choices, but Williams and Taylor-Joy make it work every scene. They are the standout performances but it’s the chemistry of the lead five mutants that really sets this film apart from the rest of the pack.
Groundbreaking Chemistry and Heartfelt Moments set The New Mutants apart
While most comic book films are trying to be bigger, badder and more action-packed, “The New Mutants” basically said “screw that, let’s scale it down to size.”
And it worked for the most part.
Director Josh Boone decided that character-building moments are far more important than big action set pieces; in many ways, this is what makes this film a much needed breath of fresh air. Caring about the characters is far more important than how grand you can make the action. This focus on character leads to one of the most touching and heartfelt moments in comic book movie history. It’s a scene that’s so good that it simply needs to be talked about so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip to the next section.
Right off the bat, Wolfsbane takes a liking to Dani Moonstar and you can feel their relationship grow as the movie goes along. This relationship reaches its peak when Wolfbane invites Dani out to the cemetery during a thunderstorm. They sit down and wait for it to rain but The hospital they are staying in has a protective forcefield that lights up when hit. The incoming downpour causes a beautiful sight to behold; like shooting stars in the galaxy.
They talk about their lives, what it’s like to be kept in cages and how they want to break free, a soft and beautiful piano plays in the background while they look into each other’s eyes and embrace with a kiss. This moment has stuck with me and I can’t get it out of my head. Seeing a film (especially a comic book movie) commit to a fully-developed queer relationship and doing it not just to meet a quota is something worth talking about and celebrating.
This film deserves some kind of praise, simply because it does things that no other comic book movie has done before. Unfortunately, this film occasionally wants to fit in with the crowd and tries to be like every other comic book movie, that’s when the film is at its weakest.
Doesn’t push the Horror Elements and ventures into Generic Territory
Where things start to become uneven is in the third act, because this is a comic book movie and comic book movies have to have climatic and action-packed endings right?
Though it’s cool to showcase some of these mutant showing off their powers, seeing this film go from a heartfelt teen drama into a generic comic book movie was really disheartening to witness. When the characters were hanging out and learning about one another was when this film was at its most entertaining; not when Majik was cutting up Elvis Presley Demons for sport. It’s stuff we’ve seen a thousand times before and we will continue to see a thousand times after.
But possibly THE most disappointing aspect is that this film doesn’t push the horror elements at all like advertised. There are a couple creepy moments here and there but this film simply doesn’t commit to being a teen horror movie like it could have. The Demon Bear design is great, the Elvis Presley Demons are creepy and the hospital setting is genius but this simply window dressing and ultimately, a huge missed opportunity.
That being said, this film does just enough right to be both satisfying and different and audience members are guaranteed to find something to love
“The New Mutants” fought through hell to make it to the silver screen and now it’s here with mostly satisfying results. This is a film that does enough to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack despite occasionally slipping into generic territory way more than we would have liked. It’s small scale, it’s heartfelt and despite its shortcomings, this is a film that will find an audience and Cult Classic status is all but certain.