“The New Mutants” was filmed in 2017. Its original release date was April 13, 2018. The movie has been delayed about a half dozen times since. In fact, some moviegoers and diehard “X-Men” fans were beginning to think it would never open… or that maybe it didn’t even exist.
However, during a time when so many movies are being delayed indefinitely or moving from theaters to VOD and streaming platforms, “The New Mutants” is one of the first major new theatrical releases to return to cinemas. But it’s clear Disney’s decision to finally get the film out now is simply a case of the studio wanting to get the ill-fated project off its plate.
I’ve never been a big fan of the “X-Men” franchise (outside of the Wolverine/“Logan” movies). None of the prequels/combo chapters, with the core group of characters, generated much impact. But “The New Mutants” sets itself apart even from that group. This is the worst non-“Deadpool” “X-Men” movie of the bunch.
In fact, it’s difficult to actually call “The New Mutants” a legitimate film because there’s barely anything here. There are a few casual references to the “X-Men” over the 90-minutes, but this installment really doesn’t belong in that group — or really any group. It’s a singularly boring experience.
Following a mysterious attack, Dani (Blu Hunt) is the only surviving resident of a Native American reservation. She’s brought to a psychiatric hospital where she joins four other teens with special powers. They all sit together and talk, alone and in group therapy sessions with their doctor. And when the doctor’s not looking they get into mischief. EVENTUALLY they’re all attacked by their inner demons and Dani must save the day. There’s your movie.
Director Josh Boone (of 2014’s excellent “The Fault in Our Stars”) has crafted the dullest film of 2020. Until the climactic sequence, there isn’t a single spark of energy. The story is void of excitement, enthusiasm and overall effort. Many scenes, especially early on, are poorly strung together. And the effects, many having to do with fire, are anything but special.
A common flaw among superhero movies in that there are too many characters. Well, “The New Mutants” has too few — only six, to be exact. And none of them are the least bit interesting. Plus, 98% of the story takes place inside the one building. This script definitely needed some outside influences — starting in the writer’s room. Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga) is lifeless. And you can’t help but feel bad for the talented Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams, who are forced to deliver bad dialogue while walking aimlessly through this colossal mess.
Only a couple scenes are semi-effective — providing a faint glimpse of a “New Mutants” that could’ve been.
Sometimes movie projects that are troubled from the start are better left for dead. That would have been the right move with “The New Mutants”, which may have finally killed the “X-Men” franchise.
LCJ GRADE: D
Running Time: 98 min.