Released: 3rd September
Seen: 6th September
The story behind the making of The New Mutants would make for a fascinating documentary, because this film is actually goddamn cursed and has had the wildest ride. It started with a pitch way back in 2015 (back in the days when we had hope) for a potential trilogy of films in this New Mutants universe. The film actually finished its first round of filming in September of 2017 and planned for a release in April of 2018… in case you haven’t noticed, they missed that deadline.
This film has been delayed so many times that it’s become a joke, it was delayed for reshoots, delayed to avoid being released at the same time Deadpool 2 came out, delayed to avoid being released at the same time as Dark Phoenix, delayed because Disney bought Fox and no one knew what was happening. I only mentioned the reshoots once but the truth is that pretty much every single delay also came with more reshoots, we’re talking about half the film being reshot. It was meant to come out in April of this year and then, because this film is goddamn cursed, a pandemic happened and the film was delayed again.
Every single person who I have talked to about New Mutants has wondered why it wasn’t just dumped online and put out of its misery, throw it up on Disney+ and cut the losses since this isn’t going to end well. But, for some reason, it never got thrown online and was instead released to cinemas this week. The final Marvel film made by Fox, a film released so long after Fox stopped being a thing that it’s almost comical, the last of the pre-MCU X-Men films… and it’s bad. Not even interesting bad, it’s just bad.
The New Mutants revolves around 5 mutants who are locked in a mental facility and are seemingly being haunted by the things that scare them most. Among these mutants are Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams) a Scottish werewolf, essentially, who has a serious past history involving a torturous priest. There’s Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), a racist Russian who can make a magic sword grow from her arm and opens portals to ‘purgatory’. Samuel Guthrie (Charlie Heaton), a working class guy who can basically turn into a human jetpack and is dealing with the death of his dad. Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga), a massive manwhore who is basically Human Torch. Lastly there’s Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), a Native American mutant who just happens to turn up when the weird haunting begins, I wonder if she has anything to do with it?
Now, there is a big problematic element of this film, namely that there’s a whole bunch of uncomfortable racial elements. Roberto da Costa, as a character, is a dark skinned man in the comics but is much much lighter in the film. Also Illyana is a big old racist who keeps saying racist shit and never has a comeuppance moment. Even though, as a white guy, probably not my place to say much here… Oh my god, Illyana’s character made me feel very uncomfortable.
Every time she was about to interact with Dani, my teeth clenched cos I knew she was going to say something racist and would have no actual punishment for her actions. The actor playing Roberto was fine, I guess (everyone in the film is fine, the actors aren’t the problem) but how hard would it be to find a darker skinned man? I mean, seriously, how goddamn hard? This is apparently a thing they do to a few characters (I didn’t read the comics and reading the comics shouldn’t be a prerequisite for following the film) and we should be way past that being acceptable. There are so many dark skinned actors who could’ve played this part, this shouldn’t even be a thing we need to talk about anymore because we should’ve been past it.
I know I’m focussing more on behind the scenes stuff here but there’s a reason for that… New Mutants is so bland that the actual content of the film isn’t interesting enough to talk about, at least in the parts I could talk about without spoiling the ending. The film is very basic, cutting between scenes of the characters in therapy followed by them breaking all the rules and barely having to deal with it.
Just watching it, you can tell that New Mutants has been through the wringer when it comes to reshoots because it’s visually all over the place and has several moments that just made me go “Wait, how did we get here?”. Hilariously it feels like there’s still major elements missing that might set up some of the scares, things like “Tension” have long gone. The best setup for anything we get is that there’s clips of Buffy that mirror events in the film.
Not even a joke, New Mutants show clips of Buffy (specifically a kiss between Tara and Willow and a fair amount from the episode Hush) as setups for later events in the film (namely a kiss between two of the leads and a pack of discount Gentlemen as some of the ‘villains’ of the film) and it really helps make it clear just how bad the visuals in this film are. The creatures in this film look worse than the creatures from an early-2000’s CW TV series, which is not something I say lightly. The bad effects work really does remove a lot of the potential that this film had, and it didn’t need much help with losing its potential.
In general New Mutants isn’t scary or interesting, from top to bottom it just doesn’t work. At best it has some mild jumpscares that look like crap and some attempts at character work which would be good if the characters were interesting. I do appreciate that this film heavily revolves around a gay love story, good on them for doing that and it would’ve been lovely to put it in a better film but… yeah, that’s it. There’s some gay in it, that’s the best compliment I can give… oh, except for saying that the final act is hilarious and I don’t think it’s meant to be. Not spoiling what they do but the big villain of the movie is so dumb that I was laughing hysterically for the entire final part of the film.
As a horror film or as a young adult drama, New Mutants just doesn’t work. It’s not interesting, fun, scary or clever. The sad thing is that there was potential here, a horror film set in the marvel universe could be a lot of fun if done right but this film doesn’t really do anything right. This is the last of the Fox X-men films and, to no one’s surprise, the series goes out with a whimper. It’s not worth your time and probably wasn’t worth years of reshoots to get what we got.