The New Mutants is good. I liked it, a lot.
That’s what you wanted to know, I’m guessing. If a movie that’s been in movie purgatory for a long time is actually any good; if it’s worth your hard-earned money.
Well, fellow X-Men fans, I’m happy to say that Josh Boone’s film is a far better way to end the Fox era of mutant movies than Dark Phoenix was (and this is coming from someone who actually enjoyed that film). In fact, for my personal tastes, it’s far closer to the better entries than the (sadly) longer list of not-so-great X-films.
In The New Mutants, we’re introduced to five teens whose mutant powers have recently been activated and who are learning to control them under the auspices of Doctor Reyes (Alice Braga) in a fairly mysterious hospital without any other patients. Things soon go bad when the mutants encounter their darkest nightmares inside the hospital’s walls.
The New Mutants is unlike any other superhero film out, certainly from both the Fox and Disney canon. The movie runs a tight 94 minutes, its setting is small and intimate, as is the story. The characters aren’t saving the world here, they’re saving each other, and they’re dealing with inner turmoil for the majority of the film. Director Boone and his co-writer Knate Lee grew up on the New Mutants, they know these characters inside and out, and are more concerned with giving them room to grow and breathe rather than prepping them for spandex and a battle with the Hellions.
Like Boone and Lee, I grew up reading The New Mutants, so seeing characters Illyana Rasputin/Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Sam Guthrie/Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Roberto da Costa/Sunspot (Henry Zaga) and Dani Moonstar/Mirage (Blu Hunt) come to life on the big screen was a genuine thrill to see. Director Boone nailed his casting choices with everyone, though it’s the female characters that really anchor the film superbly. Taylor-Joy’s Illyana is about as direct a translation as you could want from comic to screen, and I’ve got to hope that whatever ever the fate of the mutants are in the hands of Disney, they’ll consider keeping her, along with Williams and Hunt as their characters. The latter two actors in particular have wonderful chemistry together as they give mutants and Marvel a romantic relationship that feels altogether natural.
Ultimately, The New Mutants is a superhero film that finds its success thanks to its uncanny mix of stellar performances and strong character development. If it’s truly one and done for this team of teens, at least they got a film that honours its source material.