Movie Review – “The New Mutants”

It’s hard to believe, but it’s finally here. 20th Century Studios’ X-Men spinoff film The New Mutants has finally arrived in theaters after years of feeling it was never going to happen. Given the long, complicated road this film has had leading to its theatrical debut, audiences will likely be heading into theaters with low expectations. And if that is, in fact, the case, a lot of them will be pleasantly surprised.

Now bear with me here (get it? bear?). With 2020 being what it has been, the bar is obviously at a record low for this, but I would venture to say The New Mutants is the most fun you’ll have in a theater this year. Sure, that might change when some other films hit theaters, but for now that title belongs to The New Mutants.

The sci-fi/thriller is a bit of a departure from the previous entries in what was formerly Fox’s X-Men franchise, but it works well. The film introduces the audience to some lesser known but no less likeable mutants who bounce back and forth between the roles of horror victims and wacky teens. The latter comes across as much more genuine however. It can only be believable for so long that someone with the magical ability to manifest a sword in her hand can really be much of a victim.

And before you go worrying about that horror element, I’ll point out again that this is still a superhero movie. Yes, there are a few creepy scenes and some monsters that look like they were sketched by the possessed child in any Blumhouse movie, but the horror never lasts longer than a few seconds before the super powers come back into play and the film switches gears.

In regards to the characters, audiences are likely to fall in love with Dany Moonstar (Blu Hunt) and Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) and their relationship. Both Hunt and Williams bring a level of heart and charm to this movie that is otherwise mostly absent.

The rest of this ragtag group of teen heroes includes Ilyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga). When it comes to action, Rasputin – better known by her hero name of Magik – steals the show. Her powers lend themselves well to some heavily CGI-based action sequences and the studio clearly knew it. Guthrie and da Costa are mostly supporting characters, though everyone really gets their moment to shine, as you would expect from a superhero team-up.

Some interesting choices were made for the character of Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga), who is the villain of sorts. This is one of those rare superhero movies that does not rely heavily on the villain but rather the story of these new characters. That leaves Reyes in sort of an awkward in-between spot where she is the antagonist, but in a lesser way than the other things that are happening in the film.

In terms of its involvement within the larger X-Men franchise, there isn’t much aside from two points. The first is the inclusion of da Costa, whose alias is Sunspot. The character actually previously appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The second is somehow simultaneously a great piece of fan service and a desperate attempt to wrap up one of the biggest loose ends in the franchise. I won’t go into any more details, because it is probably the biggest surprise of the movie. I will say though that there is (unsurprisingly) no post-credits scene, where a lot of Marvel fans would have definitely liked to see one.

There are, as expected, a few areas in which the movie is a bit problematic. The first thing that jumped out at me was the pacing. The film begins jumping right into an action sequence, which is fine, but the pace doesn’t really let up until we’re about a half hour or so in. After that we spend a lot of time getting to know the characters and letting the relationship between Dany and Rahne breathe, but leading up to that, there’s a lot of exposition and rushed introductions.

There are also quite a few cheesy moments throughout the film. To an extent, that’s to be expected in this kind of movie, but it stands out a bit more knowing that a week before the film’s release, director Josh Boone said “because of the merger, once it was done, it was done. So, we did, never went back and did reshoots,” during a press event for the movie. Again, this movie obviously had a very difficult path to theaters so it’s understandable that comes things would have been skipped, but it’s also clear that it would have benefitted from a few reshoots.

Aside from that, some of the humor seemed to fall flat and there were some strange editing moments, but nothing particularly egregious. However, I was wondering how they were going to include a 60-foot bear and not make it look cheesy. The answer: they didn’t.

Overall though, The New Mutants was a thrilling, fun superhero movie. It is different in that it’s focused primarily on a group of teens who are just trying to find their place in the world, but what it ultimately boils down to is a superhero movie that dips its toes into the horror genre. Either way, the result is mostly positive, at least when it’s compared to the rest of the X-Men franchise. If this was the MCU we were talking about, it would be a bit of a different story. Still, for the incredibly long wait and the unprecedented difficult path it had to follow, The New Mutants will likely surpass a lot of people’s expectations.

The New Mutants is in theaters now.

Laughing Place recommends Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for the best film, food, and drink - all in one seat.
Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."