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The New Mutants

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The New Mutants
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The wait is over.....and it was not worth it.
Genre: Superhero
Horror
Directed By: Josh Boone
Produced By: Simon Kinberg
Karen Rosenfelt
Lauren Shuler Donner
Written By: Josh Boone
Knate Lee
Based On: New Mutants by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod
Starring: Maisie Williams
Anya Taylor-Joy
Charlie Heaton
Alice Braga
Blu Hunt
Henry Zaga
Cinematography: Peter Deming
Distributed By: 20th Century Studios
Release Date: August 28, 2020 (United States)
Runtime: 94 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $67-80 million
Box Office: $45 million
Franchise: X-Men
Prequel: Dark Phoenix


The New Mutants is a 2020 American horror film based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name and distributed by 20th Century Studios. The film was directed by Josh Boone from a screenplay by himself and Knate Lee, and stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga, and is the thirteenth and final installment in the X-Men film series.

Plot

Five teenage mutants — Mirage, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Sunspot and Magik — undergo treatments at a secret institution that will cure them of their dangerous powers. Invited by Dr. Cecilia Reyes to share their stories, their memories soon turn into terrifying realities as they start to question why they're being held and who's trying to destroy them.

Bad Qualities

  1. To address the main problem of the film, executive meddling: Not only were many scenes from the trailers cut in the final product due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic forcing the crew to stop re-shooting the film, but the movie was originally envisioned by one writer and director, of whom is Josh Boone. Unfortunately, the studio was not happy with that and during pre-production, they hired many ghostwriters under him and Knate Lee to painstakingly change his vision, to the point where it seems there are too many individuals telling Boone and Lee what to do. In the end, the film became an unwatchable, mutated pile of contradictory and incompatible elements, as a case of how too many cooks spoil the broth.
    • The different visions mixed into the film had led to each section and their aspects losing connection with each other, rendering them to sound illogical.
      • The prime example is the opening scene, in which Dani's community is attacked by the Demon Bear, ultimately leading to the loss of her father and conscience. She then wakes up in a hospital, which turns out to be a facility which experiments on mutants, but then Dr. Cecilia Reyes shows up and explains that she is a mutant starting to manifest her powers in need of help, which explains why she ended up here. These happen, even if the story has not established the fact Dani is a mutant or is aware of them, and aside from the title, the film still has not established how mutants exist. And from so on, Dani just goes along with the process of trying to figure her abilities before knowing beforehand, leading to this plot point being rather nonsensical.
      • It also seems the one who wrote the opening wasn't aware that it was supposed to justify what was supposed to come after, as it isn't like Dani shows evidence of her own powers to prove that mutants exist and she is one; on the other hand, it isn't like what is happening in any way presented as her doing or not like at the hospital where she first sees the teenagers showcase their mutant powers before she accepts the verbal information that Dr. Reyes feeds her. But instead, the film tells us that Dani is a mutant and she needs help in controlling herself before it is established that there happens to be something that can control that. Ultimately, the foundation of this movie is purely illogical and nonsensical.
      • Another minor example is when the New Mutants drug Dr. Reyes into a slumber before partying on, which feels weird because the audience never gets to see the doctor prohibit them from doing such things as the only thing she is ever shown stopping the New Mutants from doing is... fighting each other, which is not really what they do here.
      • There is also one scene where Cannonball touches a laundry machine and is then put into a scary vision of his past before we have any establishment to the build-up to know if it is something new or something he experienced every day, as well as Dani trying to run off the hospital grounds before it is clear that she is a prisoner there or where exactly she is running off to since she already received the news that her entire community is dead. Overall, things here just occur and characters just act, not because they were based on and logically connected to each other but because of the script being a hodgepodge of the different visions doing all their different things; it ultimately is just kind of what it is.
  2. Botched characterizations, with the characters mainly being completely underdeveloped and having a complete lack of chemistry:
    • Due to the amount of different views being involved in the film, the characters lose their organic core of who they are and become shallow and two-dimensional caricatures.
    • Magik is a generic and clichéd mean popular girl whose backstory, of which she was abused by men coming into her house, despite being an excellent three-dimensional basis, falls flat as her actions only boil down to being a bully towards Dani; she has a brother who is an X-Men member, Colossus, who is never mentioned in the film.
      • No matter the angle a viewer may try to look at it from, one may find it quickly that her actions and backstory are incompatible with each other; even though one may argue that her past experiences made her wary of strangers and that it is why she perceived Dani as a threat since she was a newcomer who does not acknowledge her mutant powers, turning her insecurity into hostile aggression, the visions she had do not work because they established her abuses of being men only and Dani is not male. As a result, there is no psychologically realistic reason for her to perceive Dani as a threat; one may also argue that her cruel childhood has made her mad at the world, but that doesn't explain why she was a bully towards only Dani specifically. In fact, she is quite chill, if not unnecessarily nice, towards the other New Mutants, and she isn't unprompted trying to either fight or kill them.
      • Altogether, the place where Magik comes from in the end does not align with who she is, as if the one who wrote her backstory was not the one who wrote her actions, making her less of a real person and more of a one-dimensional caricature who happens to bully Mirage for her Native American heritage for no reason other than the conflict having to come from somewhere.
  3. The other New Mutants do not give whatever actions to showcase who they are whatsoever.
      • Dani is shown as not a doer, but instead as an empty, passive shell that we do things upon.
      • Cannonball's backstory of accidentally killing his father and his workers in a mine did pretty much nothing until the finale.
      • Sunspot, who accidentally burned and killed his girlfriend, was relegated to a man who exists just to wash the dishes and do the laundry.
      • Wolfsbane is a generic benevolent ally who happens to have a good backstory, at where she was branded a witch by her church for being a mutant and happening to be a person who likes being with girls, with the resulting trauma making it very difficult being a mutant and blending with the girls; unfortunately, her actions do not match her backstory, as in a matter of scenes, she has befriended and seduced Dani with her irresistible non-pressure and charisma that the rest of us can only dream of.
  4. No character development happens in the film, and even the forced teenage bisexual relationship barely contributes anything to develop the characters and thus advance the plot; the characters here are also no longer their real lifelike sums of their past lives as much as they are shallow caricatures behaving to fit their generic and clichéd roles just so the film can function.
  5. The film features racist stereotypes of Native Americans; also, Rahne being a lesbian and Moonstar being bisexual both feel rather forced.
  6. Poor story overall, featuring a generic plot that centers around a clichéd teenage drama that has been done to death in many films beforehand, whilst also featuring the "liar revealed" cliché at the end.
    • The story becomes aimless and boring due to the aforementioned involvement of the ghostwriters; for example, the main basis is that the titular group of teenage mutants were brought to the facility to get along with their new powers and to "get better", which is by meeting with Dr. Cecilia Reyes along the runtime, but when the audience looks at these meetings, they will quickly realize that nothing is actually being accomplished in them and nobody is actually better because they will never know what "getting better" means; with the end result being that they only get to watch people talk about things that in reality amount to nothing, meaning that the main driver of the plot isn't actually moving at all, which feels pretty frustrating.
  7. In the horror scenes, there is one good foundation for the scare is that when Magik attempts to attack Moonstar, in which the former's actions lead to that scare coming to be later on, at which point Magik and Mirage are forced to live away from each other. Aside from this one scene, scares in this movie were never derived from a character's motives and actions but instead happen upon them randomly.
    • Examples of this include when Cannonball had a vision of his dad in a mine, which only happens because he is in a laundry room for no reason until a laundry machine becomes mysteriously shaking and Sunspot having a vision with a girl only for her to be a scary vision of his burnt, dead girlfriend not because he oh-so happens to be with Magik, but instead because of no particular reason. Also, we have Wolfsbane going to a chapel only to experience the trauma of being a mutant, not because she has clear pre-established goals to get done in the church but instead because one of the writers thought that it was a cool scare so he just threw it in.
      • As a result, the aforementioned scares feel like they were ripped out of Stephen King's It. In the case of It, said scares came from what the characters overall were coming through and trying to accomplish, in which the main hero Bill Denborough was trying to find his dead brother Georgie, leading to his individual scare being his dead brother; but in The New Mutants, where scares are not purposely created, the scares are not something that the audience are personally up to but instead are randomly self-contained events showing up from nowhere and as a result, they feel not scary.
  8. Some of the scenes do not carry any overarching purpose of character goals and motivations. There are no obstacles or whatever hindrances that the characters move towards overcoming and there is no real organic friction and conflict as things just happen based on what it is than in a specific self-contained moment which needs to happen by.
      • Take the lie detector scene as an example. The reason for doing this is the presence of a significant obstacle the New Mutants need to overcome by using the lie detector. However, it seems that they are playing with the lie detector for no other purpose than the fact that whichever writer was responsible for the backstories no want the characters to talk about them. The problem is that it makes the whole movie aimless, and with an hour in, the viewers still lack a clue about what it is they are here to do or what the main point of it is, making it incredibly boring to watch.
    • There are several plot holes in the movie.
  9. The ending is just abysmal, leaving nothing more than sequel bait for a movie that will never be made, ultimately spelling the downfall of the X-Men Movie franchise upon Disney's acquisition of Fox.
  10. Poor casting choices, with Henry Zaga, a white Brazilian actor of predominantly Italian descent, being cast as Sunspot (real name: Roberto da Costa), who was Afro-Brazilian in the original comics, and Alice Braga, another white Brazilian, being cast as Cecilia Reyes, who was Afro-Puerto Rican in the original comics.
  11. Despite being part of the X-Men film franchise, none of the X-Men characters have anything to do in the movie at all.
  12. Poor visual effects, editing and pacing.
  13. Just like Fantastic Four (2015), there are almost no action sequences, met with a lackluster final battle with regards to the complete lack of the usage of the main characters' powers in the climax.
  14. The multiple delays that Fox had placed on this film made it seem that they are trying their best to prevent the film from being released, as the end product is not much considering.
  15. Just like Dark Phoenix, this film was supposed to have planned sequels as part of a trilogy, but due to this film under-performing at the box office, the sequels were scrapped and cancelled due to the X-Men characters going to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (see Trivia for more details).
  16. It ended a good franchise on a bad note. Deadpool 2 is the franchise's last good movie. Not counting the Deadpool movies, the last great movie would be Logan. And not counting the Wolverine solos, the franchise's last good movie would be X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Good Qualities

  1. Decent soundtrack by Mark Snow, who composed the shows like The X-Files.
  2. A solid performance by Maisie Williams, and excellent performances by Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy.
  3. There are some well-written moments, and the horror moments are well-made.
  4. The idea of making a horror film with superhero elements is original despite being executive meddling.
  5. At least the film gives the New Mutants unique and interesting backstories that defined where they come from, with Magik's being the most interesting.
  6. They did introduced a New Mutants villain, Demon Bear.
  7. The third act of the film feels more straightforward and less random and contrived compared to the first two acts, even if it is already a little more than an hour in.
  8. Lockheed looks cute and cleverly resembles Spyro.

Reception

The New Mutants received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, but slightly better or even worse than Dark Phoenix, while its overall underwhelming and anticlimactic delivery with criticism mainly directed at the plot and characters and called it generic and unoriginal, though the cast did receive some praise. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 35% based on 125 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Rendering a list of potentially explosive ingredients mostly inert, The New Mutants is a franchise spinoff that's less than the sum of its super-powered parts.". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

In the days leading up to the film's release, several major publications, including RogerEbert.com, IndieWire, The A.V. Club, and The Boston Globe, refused to review the film, citing Disney's lack of socially distanced press screenings or digital streaming links and noting that it was not safe to attend a traditional public screening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trivia

  • This was a second film to use the 20th Century Studios logo after The Call of the Wild (2020).
  • This is the last X-Men film released by 20th Century Studios (formerly Fox) before Disney will integrate the X-Men into the MCU as such the sequels are canceled.
  • Like Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants was meant to be the first installment of a new trilogy. However, after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, plans for a trilogy were scrapped. Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that any future X-Men films would be produced by Marvel Studios as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Bob McLeod's named was misspelled as "Bob MacLeod" in the end credits.

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