"The New Mutants" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Josh Boone's "The New Mutants" is a last-minute cash grab from 20th Century Fox before the Disney acquisition. That wouldn't have been a problem for me if they tried to make a decent film. However, this film is just a boring hour and a half that lacks in story and character development.
The film revolves around five mutant teenagers that are being treated for their dangerous powers in a facility. The human's arrogance towards mutants and their powers is a huge plot device for the X-Men franchise and is used in most of their films. The entirety of the film takes place in the institution. It feels like Boone was trying to go into the direction of a superhero take on "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". Dr. Reyes, the main practitioner in the institute, has characteristics and tendencies that reflect those of Nurse Ratched.
The five teens try to provoke both sympathy and empathy from the audience, but fails miserably. We do feel for the characters as we learn the tragic events that produce their powers. However, the scenes are cut very short, and there is not enough backstory to the characters. The only real thing we learn about these mutants is that they had one tragic event that brought on their powers. Why should we feel anything more for them when they don't give enough story to our characters?
Despite the teen actors having major roles in previous works, I wasn't fond of their performances here. A big turn-off for me was their heavy accents. Each one of them produces a different accent. I feel like they tried to hard changing their voice as the accents were horrendous and made the acting ridiculous. Take a look at Charlie Heaton's character, who uses a southern accent for the entirety of the film. It's so bad that it's hard to take him seriously, especially during intense scenes.
The chemistry between Rahne (Maisie Williams) and Dani (Blu Hunt) is great, and you can feel the love they have for each other. However, that begs the question of whether they love each other as friends or as lovers. They share a couple of passionate kisses when they're together, but Rahne and Dani are the only real friends they've ever had. They have even admitted to never doing anything sexual with another before their first kiss. How do they know that they are attracted to each other sexually? Obviously they are attracted to one another in a sense of having a close relationship with someone, but does it end there? How much does their attraction actually stretch for one another? Like mentioned earlier, there isn't really enough character or plot development to explain this. Most of the X-Men films have stretched to two and a half hours long, while this one stops after an hour and a half. I feel this was wasted potential they had to tell an even greater and more in depth story.
The one thing I do applaud in this film is the suspense and overall creepiness factor. Look at the scene towards the ending where our protagonists are chased by creepy extraterrestrials with smiley face masks. They chase our teens down the hallway, and pop up at unexpected times. The smaller atmosphere of he hallway creates a claustrophobic feeling in the viewer; we feel as if we can't escape the clutches from these evil aliens. Another unsettling scene I look back on is when Rahne is approached in the shower by the priest who had condemned her earlier in her life. It's so discomforting watching him stalk towards her, not knowing what sick and vile things he is thinking of doing to her.
As this is the last film in the Fox X-Men franchise, I think this film was just a useless throwaway of what could have been great characters. Will we ever see these characters in the future? My guess is probably not, as Disney will start to incorporate newer characters from the X-Men franchise into their Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps it was a good thing that the filmmakers didn't give us a chance to get attached to these characters.