The Movie Waffler New to Digital - THE NEW MUTANTS | The Movie Waffler

New to Digital - THE NEW MUTANTS

the new mutants review
A teenage girl finds herself confined to a mysterious institute with a group of fellow mutant teens.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Josh Boone

Starring: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga

the new mutants poster

Thanks to COVID-19's disruption of the film industry, we're going to have to get used to seeing movies a year or two later than originally planned. Director Josh Boone's X-Men spinoff The New Mutants is arriving in cinemas two years after its initial release date of April 2018, and I don't think any other movie has had so many different trailers cut, given how many times Disney have teased releasing this thing. Ironically, this seems to be getting a release right now because of, rather than in spite of COVID-19, as it gives Disney the perfect opportunity to bury a movie they acquired as part of the FOX merger, but are clearly none too happy with. It's said that at one point execs pondered reshooting the entire movie, and the finished product is so shoddy that Bob McLeod, who created the characters, has publicly complained about his name being misspelled in the credits.

the new mutants review

So how bad is The New Mutants? It's atrocious, but I've seen worse, and I've seen worse movies in the X-Men franchise. At one hour 40 minutes, it's at least mercifully shorter than most superhero movies, so it does have that going for it.

[ READ MORE: First Look Review - Shadow in the Cloud ]

As for the plot, well it's basically a knockoff of Nightmare on Elm Street 3, but crucially missing the presence of Freddy Kreuger. Following a mysterious attack on her village, Native American teen Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) wakes up in a mysterious facility staffed by a single doctor, Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). It turns out Dani is a mutant who can bring people's nightmares, including her own, to life. Oh wait, now that I think of it, she's the Freddy Kreuger here. Anyway, she's not alone, as other teenage muties are also housed in the facility. Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is an offensive Russian stereotype who can turn her right arm into a light saber. Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) can turn into a wolf. Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) can...spin around quickly? Bobby da Costa (Henry Zaga) doesn't seem to have a superpower, but he does apparently get very warm when turned on.

the new mutants review

The five hang around the institute, bickering among one another, while Dani and Rahne make googly eyes, eventually leading up to what I believe is the first same-sex snog in a mainstream Hollywood movie of this ilk (which is probably a large part of the reason why Disney wished to bury the film). This got me thinking about how another version of this movie might have served as a smart allegory for America's "Pray the Gay Away" camps, with a bunch of teenagers being thought to readapt their powers in a manner approved by society.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - The Woman Who Ran ]

The New Mutants is the most boring kind of superhero movie, one where nobody wants to be a superhero and everyone spends the film moaning about the burden of their powers. There's an awful lot of moaning here, at least an hour of it, up until the usual CG infested climax, which here is a laughably unironic take on the finale of Ghostbusters involving a CG bear. Superhero movies are known for their underwhelming villains, but Yogi here might be the worst of them all.

the new mutants review

If the movie has a saving grace (it really doesn't), it's Taylor-Joy, who seems to know she's acting in a piece of trash. Awful accent aside (why do American and British actors always sound Portuguese when they attempt to portray Slavs?), she seems to be enjoying sinking her teeth into what is essentially a cartoon character, and she manages to jolt you out of your encroaching slumber whenever she's given screen time. Luckily for her, she won't be trapped in the franchise ala Jennifer Lawrence, as the chances of a sequel to this turkey are about as slim as those of a Hollywood remake of Salo.

The New Mutants is on UK Digital now.

2020 movie reviews