Contrary to the audience’s expectation of a “blockbuster” whose content and visual effects can satisfy anyone, after three years of waiting and four times of postponement, The New Mutants of director Josh Boone is such a disappointment when it is no different than a horror, romance movie about mutants for teenagers.
After the catastrophic failure of X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) and Dark Phoenix (2019), The New Mutants was expected to bring a new breath to the X-Men universe and put a completed ending for Fox’s franchise before coming back to Marvel Studio. However, the movie continues to repeat the same failures of the previous movies when delivering lackluster content with a messy storyline despite having a potential cast. The unfavorable return of The New Mutants movie has left fans doubting the future of the X-Men franchise that has built its reputation over the past 20 years.
The New Mutants is an X-Men spinoff set in the 1980s. The film begins with a sudden disaster that hits the village of Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) and kills all the villagers including her beloved father. Dani – the only survivor is taken to a hospital specializing in treating and helping young mutants control their powers under the supervision of Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga).
Here, Dani meets 4 other mutant friends Rahne (Maisie Williams), Illyana (Anya Taylor – Joy), Roberto (Henry Zaga), and Sam (Charlie Heaton). During the treatment, she and her group of friends not only discovered their own abilities, learned how to deal with fear in the subconscious mind, but also realized that this place was not a “hospital treatment” at all.
1. Lack of coherence, bogged down in romance.
In terms of potential, The New Mutants film possesses a lot of advantages: reconstructing from the famous X-Men franchise with an in-depth multi-ethnic character line, possessing a potential cast, and the prestige of the X-Men brand. However, the advantages that the movie has become a double-edged sword when there are too many ideas but the producers cannot turn them into interesting details, but rather a “mixed hot pot” of genres ranging from psychology, school to horror, romance,…
The first mistake is that the work is bogged down on the emotional element instead of focusing on exploiting the young mutant group’s abilities. More than half of the film passed, the audience was drawn into complex psychological emotions, innocuous conflicts between the members and somewhat cliché-like teasing lines like the motif often found in school films of Hollywood.
Josh Boone is a successful director in the romantic film segment when having resonated with Stuck In Love (2012), The Fault in Our Stars (2014), so it is not too surprising that the feelings of the two girls Dani Moonstar and Rahne was shown in a soft, natural way, but it occupies the most duration of the whole movie, which made the content lengthy and somewhat irrelevant to the context of a superhero movie.
2. Anya Taylor-Joy saved the whole movie: The New Mutants
Although it took a long time to greet, the members’ capabilities were still not clearly shown. Compared with the epic biographies of the characters which were just mentioned through rumors, The New Mutants movie lacks completely the eye-catching appearances or the segments in which each young member would show off their amazing superpowers. The past of all five members was only mentioned superficially through a few clumsily edited scenes.
Even, the screen time of two characters Roberto (Henry Zaga) and Sam (Charlie Heaton) was completely omitted. The personal stories and abilities of the two characters are only vaguely shown through unfinished lines. The lack of common elements in a superhero movie as well as a series of scene transitions like a patchwork has created a pretty bad experience for those who have loved the X-Men series for years.
Despite being considered the strongest mutant, Dani Moonstar completely faded compared to her friend Illyana. Perhaps Anya Taylor-Joy’s role was the most memorable highlight of The New Mutants movie when she got a complete performance. The mean and aggressive blonde girl at first had the most obvious personality development when she overcame her fears, became cute, and gained opportunities to show her eye-catching strength.
3. An incomplete goodbye to the 20-year-old franchise.
The New Mutants was expected to be the first horror superhero movie in the X-Men universe, but the horror sensational element in the new generation of X-Men is only at the level of feeling, not creating worthy details. Perhaps the protracted conflict between Boone and the Twentieth Century Fox made the movie half-baked.
However, The New Mutants still has certain outstanding points. Leave aside the somewhat discrete content, the film still possesses beautiful visual effects, the characters’ images are quite unique, especially in scenes that recreate the subconscious fear of the young mutant group. The horror factor also makes the work darker and deeper than other movies in the Marvel/ X-Men universe.
Because the movie’s target audience is teenagers, the film’s message is quite clear when it conveys inner strength, encourages you to bravely overcome inner fear and strongly confront your own mistakes. The five mutants also make us think of the famous movie trilogy Unbreakable by M. Night Shyamalan. When Boone’s philosophy stated that the power of mutants can be determined through the choice between good and evil in one’s ego. Characters are also metaphors of the social prejudices of the groups they represent: from indigenous people, immigrants, the LGBT community, or the feminist movement which are also cleverly mentioned.
Josh Boone’s first film about superheroes is not too bad, but only at a bold vision and great ambition. Perhaps since its conception, neither Boone nor Fox expected this to be the end of a 20-year-old brand. The hardship from the production to the release of The New Mutants also heralded a sad ending, an incomplete goodbye to fans.