Review: ‘The New Mutants’ fails to x-ecute

“The New Mutants,” despite its potential to represent something wholly unique and exceptional, failed to execute on its premise — delivering a disappointedly average and ultimately forgettable experience, adding yet another drop to the ever-growing sea of superhero films.

“The New Mutants,” directed by Josh Boone and based on the 1982 comic by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod, attempts to blend the superhero genre with elements of horror and psychological thrillers.

The concept of a horror-infused superhero film would have been a first for the genre and a unique twist on the generic superhero formula. Unfortunately, great concepts mean little without great execution, and “The New Mutants” fails to deliver.

The film is centered around Dani Moonstar (Blue Hunt) and four other teenage mutants who are trapped in a medical facility due to each developing a superpower that they cannot yet control, presenting a danger to themselves and society. They are under the guidance and constant surveillance of Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga) who claims to only want to help them control their powers.  All the while, there exists a persistent mystery as to whether Dr. Reyes is actually there to help and why strange, nightmarish events keep occurring.

While the premise may be unique, the film does not fully commit or decide if it wants to be a horror film or a traditional comic book flick, ultimately failing at both. Despite cinematographer Peter Deming and composer Mark Snow’s best efforts to help Boone capture creepy shots and a foreboding tone, these elements are rarely consistent.

The film bounces from being a psychological thriller, full of ever-growing tension one moment, to an angsty young adult film featuring a rebellious dance montage and first kisses. This incoherent identity causes the film to feel disjointed.

Despite the solid cast, not even the characters can redeem this film. All of the characters are cliché and extremely one-note. They are hardly deeper than their surface-level presentations and their character arcs are just as shallow.

Disappointingly, given the cast, the performances vary from adequate to subpar. Half of the cast sports accents, the majority of which are inconsistent and unconvincing, with the exception of Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams).

While the writing is fine for most of the film — although the final fight scene was laughably cringey — the actual plot is where the film stumbles the most.

The two aforementioned mysteries that undertone the majority of the film can be figured out within the first act due to clearly telegraphed moments practically screaming the answers.

This, in turn, has the unfortunate effect of making the majority of the film overall boring as there is not much to keep your interest through the 94-minute run time.

The film suffered an undeservedly tumultuous and chaotic production history, with filming having wrapped back in 2017 and shelved until now. While the filmmakers deserve sympathy for that, it is becoming clear why Disney chose to release this film during a pandemic when theater attendance is at historic lows.

“The New Mutants” isn’t the worst film ever. It is certainly better than previous X-Men films such as “Age of Apocalypse” and “Dark Phoenix,” but compared to “Logan,” a similarly genre-blending film set in the X-Men universe, “New Mutants” is middling at best.

The film had a great concept with a lot of potential to deliver something unique among comic book films, but through its many faults, it instead produced an X-Men film with no gifts and a horror film with no claws.

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