Saturday, 7 November 2020

The New Mutants (Movie Review)

The X-Men movies might have fizzled out with the less than stellar X-Men: Dark Phoenix, but for many fans, there still existed that hope that The New Mutants would serve as a better sendoff to the Fox era of the franchise. A proper swansong if you will. Except the movie would have some problems of its own, and it was in fact in danger of never seeing the light of day following the Disney-Fox acquisition. 

But after suffering through a troubled production and several delays, the movie finally made its way into theaters back in August. This was back when Nigerian cinemas were still closed down though, so I wasn't able to see it until now, just ahead of its forthcoming release on Blu-ray and premium VOD.

Set in the X-Men universe, the film takes place in a secluded mansion located "20 miles away from the nearest town," where a group of five mutants are being held captive. These include Rahne (Maisie Williams), Sam (Charlie Heaton), Illyana (Ana Taylor-Joy), Bobby (Henry Zaga) and the newest arrival, Dani (Blu Hunt). They are being studied and monitored by a doctor named Cecillia (Alice Braga), under the guise of helping them learn to control their abilities. But things are obviously not as the woman claims, and the five mutants must learn to work together if they hope to escape.

One of the biggest selling points that was highlighted during the marketing for The New Mutants was the fact that it would be taking a much darker approach than any of the previous X-Men movies. In other words, it was to be the first horror film in the franchise. But while the film definitely had horror film elements, I wouldn't go as far as calling it a true horror film. Perhaps I have just become too jaded by horror films lately, but I never once felt our heroes were in any kind of real, life-threatening danger.

This is not to say that the movie didn't give them any threats to go against. There was definitely no shortage of otherworldly fiends for them to do battle with during the film's climax. The problem though was the fact that for much of the movie they didn't even get to use any of their powers. The first two-thirds of the movie were so light on action that you might be forgiven for thinking you were watching a teen drama, not to talk of a horror film set in the X-Men Universe.

On a more positive note, the movie at least did have some really interesting superpowers on display. I especially loved Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana, who had the coolest-looking powers of the bunch. It was also nice seeing Maisie Williams again, after her stint on Game of Thrones, even though it was a bit freaky seeing her looking as young as she did in the movie, which speaks to all the delays and production troubles the film has had since filming was completed in 2017.

All in all, The New Mutants was a different take on superheroes. And while it might not be the swansong fans were hoping for, it still offers a decent enough superhero adventure story that fits into the overall X-Men universe.

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