After being delayed for two years, the X-Men horror spinoff "The New Mutants" is finally getting a theatrical release this week. So, is the movie worth the wait, or do we have another "Dark Phoenix" disaster on our hands?
With Disney refusing to provide film publications with digital screening links, there have been relatively few reviews of the movie thus far. Several publications, however, were able to review the movie in theaters outside of the US. Here's what their reviews say.
It's Like 'The Breakfast Club,' But Set In An Asylum
[I]t feels like it was made sometime in the 1980s or '90s and that it was inspired, along with the above sources, by the proto-high-school movie classic "The Breakfast Club" — that is, if the latter were set in a semi-state-of-the-art asylum where five adolescent mutants from a variety of backgrounds undergo group psychotherapy as they try to master their new powers.
The story is largely told from the perspective of Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), a Native American girl whose entire reservation was decimated by a supernatural force. She wakes up in the facility and in the care of Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga), who appears to be the lone adult and staff person. She watches over Dani, perhaps too closely, and the other mutants in her care. They include Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), a demonic teleporter with a chip on her shoulder and [her] plush dragon friend fans of the X-Men comics will recognize immediately; Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton), a Kentucky native with propulsive powers; Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams), a shy, devout girl hiding a feral side; and Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga), a Brazilian rich kid who likes to heat things up in more ways than one.
Dani's arrival doesn't just disrupt the close-knit group, it triggers nightmarish flashbacks to each's terrible origin, and the reason they are all locked away.
The Biggest Flaw Of The Movie Is Its Unoriginality
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where Boone goes wrong, because there are just so many options to choose from. The filmmaker, who co-wrote the script with Knate Lee (who I'm assured is not an alias), has several ideas of what "The New Mutants" should be. It's "The Breakfast Club," just with the miscreant teenagers tweaked to be moody superheroes. It's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," only with Joss Whedon's sharp dialogue tossed in favour of hacky one-liners. No, wait, it's "A Nightmare on Elm Street," but with a giant grizzly bear standing in for Freddy Krueger (I'm serious).
Instead of funnelling his inspirations into one singular vision that he could call his own, Boone has made a Frankenstein of a franchise movie, a giant elevator pitch that leads directly to the sub-basement of originality.
[F]or most of the planet — that is, the portion of the planet able to see this new release from Disney's 20th Century Studios in a movie theatre — and especially for the film's likely target audience, "Mutants" will provide an eye-rolling case of déjà vu.
Generic and, at its best, straining to be heartfelt, director Josh Boone's adaptation of the Marvel spin-off comic series is a Marvel movie spin-off in its own right, making vague references to the X-Men franchise but attempting to stand on its own.
'The New Mutants' Also Fails To Deliver On Either The Horror Or The Superhero Action
"New Mutants" is a film trying too hard to cash in on proven youth market formulas, but the concoction fizzles. It doesn't really work as an angsty romance, misses the mark as a horror movie and never for a minute feels like a superhero flick.
The movie isn't even as scary as it could be, a fact that could be explained by the need to maintain a PG-13 rating, but in the end we're only reminded of recent teen horror ensembles like "It" that worked much better. A potentially terrifying sequence where the kids are pursued by a horde of fanged monsters is upended by the fact that the monsters are all wearing what can best be described as disco shirts, each of them buttoned halfway to the top. (Are they meant to be Eurotrash-men from hell?)
Reportedly budgeted at around $80M, it's clear Boone was feeling the strain to make the movie look as good as possible. There are only a couple of really big set pieces, but the biggest, a confrontation with the monstrous Demon Bear, you can see the wheels, or in this case the fur, starting to come off. It hurts what is actually an impressive showdown, with Illyana slicing her way through the demon realm of Limbo, and each hero getting to unleash their full potential.
The Best Thing About The Movie Is Its Cast, Especially Anya Taylor-Joy
The always remarkable Anya Taylor-Joy relishes the wicked girl role while "Game of Thrones's" Maisie Williams (battling Taylor-Joy for largest eyes in a human face) is a deeply empathetic, awkward girl with a crush.
Most of the cast were rising stars at the time of filming and have since gone on to bigger and better things, but it's still interesting to see them at this formative stage of their careers. For many of them, this was the biggest movie they had done at the time, and none seem overwhelmed by the experience. Blu Hunt is probably the least recognizable face, and capably shoulders the greatest emotional burden as the most naive member of the group. The one having the most fun is clearly Taylor-Joy as the Soulsword-wielding Illyana, rocking a bad attitude and a scary Russian accent.
Was it worth the wait? Of course not. But at least the movie's lengthy production history provides some tasty material to chew on as you attempt to swallow "The New Mutants'" empty cinematic calories.