by Hans A. Carpenter
Release Date: August 28
Director: Josh Boone
Starring: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy,
and Alice Braga
Mister Marquee Says:
Soon to be the Old Mutants
Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) sees her reservation destroyed and wakes up in a secluded hospital for mutant teens with Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton, Bobby de Costa (Henry Zaga), and Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) run by mutant doctor Reyes (Alice Braga). Soon, Dani realizes all is not as it seems as each teen’s past trauma comes to life…literally.
Outside circumstances meant this movie never had a chance. Between the famously troubled production that saw numerous delays and reworking to the Disney buyout of Fox that axed the Fox X-Men series, to a box office with one hand sticking out of the grave due to COVID, New Mutants never stood a chance even with minimal competition.
I love the MCU as much as the next guy, but this may be one casualty of the all out assault the franchise has had on the way we watch movies. It’s much more difficult to get into a franchise movie when you know there is no franchise. The MCU has conditioned moviegoers to expect movie one to pay off by movie four with crossovers in between. Each chapter is an episode in a television series. A franchise film, made like a franchise film, where the audience knows that investment won’t pay off because the franchise was axed by a corporate buyout? Good luck getting that emotional investment.
This is partially a poor hand New Mutants was dealt by circumstances, and also an indictment of the hubris of making movies with several sequels integral to their watchability (I’m looking at you Universal’s The Mummy). Dark Phoenix suffered the same problem; by the time it came out, it was clear that the Fox X-Men universe was on life support and Mickey Mouse was fiddling with the plug.
It’s a shame, too. Because even though I’m a card carrying fanboy of the MCU and Fox’s track record with the X-Men is more tumultuous than the relationship between Professor X and Magneto, Fox took risks with the franchise for better or worse. They let Deadpool be an ultraviolent hard-R adult comedy. They let Logan tell a gritty gunslinger story with the franchise’s most bankable star. With New Mutants, they tried a horror movie with a young cast and a b-list team of characters.
The horror is a little too effects heavy to hit as an out-and-out horror, but the different tone is refreshing for a superhero film. Blu Hunt and Maisie Williams have great chemistry, and their budding relationship is the highlight of a somewhat predictable film with a confusing conclusion. The young cast in general elevate a meh plot.
New Mutants isn’t the best X-Men movie, but it’s far from the worst.