The New Mutants

Shot in 2017 and delayed and delayed and delayed, New Mutants finally sees the light of day. After all that waiting, it turns out the movie is only okay.

New Mutants was shot in 2017. It was delayed for reshoots. Then Disney bought 20th Century Fox. This brought more delays. Once the dust settled on the merger, the reshoots were rescheduled. Then canceled. Then the film was shelved indefinitely. Then it was finally completed. Now it has been released.

After all that, it would make sense that the film would be a complete and total disaster. It’s not. It’s also not as one reviewer stated “the worst X-Men movie ever.” There are far worse. This one is just okay.

It gets off to a rocky start. A very clumsily handled action chase through the woods. Dani, played by Blu Hunt, is a young Native American girl living on a reservation with her dad when she awoken in the night by the destruction of her community. An unseen force destroys everything and kills her father. This sequence is clunky and poorly executed. Not a great start.

Dani wakes up in a vaguely menacing hospital. She meets Dr. Reyes, played by Alice Braga. Reyes explains that Dani is a mutant who’s powers have manifested but remain a mystery. She needs to be kept in this hospital until they learn what her powers are and how to control them. This is also really awkward. It’s a weird exposition dump. The relationship isn’t clearly established. Reyes is sort of a blank slate early on. She’s not a comforting presence, she’s not frightening. She’s just there and so is Dani.

From here the movie really picks up. From here, Dani meets the other teens at the hospital. They have unique powers and unique trauma to go along with them. The teen performances are fantastic. Their dynamics are engaging and their conflicts very entertaining. The stand out is Anna Taylor-Joh as Illyana. She’s a Russian teen with a deeply troubled past who used her powers to escape her trauma. She reacts violently and cruelly to those around her in order to protect herself. Her conflict with Dani and the rest of the group is what drives their growth and change. It’s really solid.

From there the movie takes on elements of a horror movie as things start to get weird for everyone. Ghosts from their pasts seem to be emerging for all of the new mutants. Apparitions and horrifying visions lash out. Sometimes this works really well, sometimes not so much. There’s a great scene in a confessional. Then there’s an awkward scene in the shower.

The horror element is also abandoned in favor of a super powered cgi slugfest in the final act. CGI monsters are slain by CGI super powers. There’s an amazing moment when Illyana steps forward in all her super powered glory to defend the others. Then there’s a generic fire guy fighting a generic monster.

The movie really feels like a mitigated masterpiece. It has moments of greatness, but every time something good starts to happen it gets cut off. Once the group dynamic starts to get rolling, they dispense with that and move onto the horror movie. Once the horror starts working and the tension mounts the movie shifts gears and turns into a straight up action movie. The movie just doesn’t commit to one thing. If it did it could’ve been great as it is, it’s too much and not enough.

As with everything I’ve seen recently, I can only recommend portion of the movie not the film as a whole. Is it worth risking your life and going to the theater for? No. Is it okay enough to stream it someday? Sure.

Kind if my cup of tea. C+

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