Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
"The New Mutants"
April 13, 2018. February 22, 2019. August 2, 2019. April 3, 2020. This is a list of the way-too-many release dates The New Mutants initially had. We can blame scheduling conflicts and, of course, COVID, but in my personal opinion... this film was doomed from the start. The X-Men franchise––besides their rated R takes––really began to fall after Days of Future Past. The studio seemed to stop trying when it came to timelines and continuity... and quality, and when Dark Phoenix released I had already given up.
I will admit that I was semi-excited for The New Mutants back when it was announced, but after each delay, I started to lose faith. I wondered why they kept pushing for a theatrical release when they could have just easily put it on Disney Plus, where they would have more than likely gained more members. But now, here we are, talking about this long-delayed film, and all I can say is: it is not very good. And Disney got money from all of my friends instead of just one person paying for their subscription service. So I guess they won.
It's still not good, though.
Trying Too Hard
The New Mutants is a film coming off of the back of some pretty successful rated-R comic book films. When I heard the film was going to be a comic book horror film, I got excited. Rated-R comic book horror, baby! Well... not really. And that is one of my biggest issues with the film. It tries really hard to be edgy, violent, and promiscuous while still trying to keep a PG-13 rating. The violence could have been a lot more intense––the horror, too––if the studio would have just gone for an R rating. We know they can do it. Look at Logan and Deadpool! I don't know if they just wanted to attract younger viewers or what, but in my honest opinion, the film could have benefitted from fully embracing the violence and the horror. There were traces of good horror with the Smiley Men, but that was pretty much it for me. Not only that, but the horror aspects would just pop up at random times. The film just didn't seem to know exactly what it wanted to be. It would jump from a teen coming-of-age film to a horror film to a superhero film and then it would circle back around to do it all over again. I can understand why the studio would want to try to genre bend what we know as a typical superhero film, but they bent it in too many directions, turning the final product into a mess.
The Writing and the Conflict
Throughout the entirety of the film, I couldn't help but cringe at some of the dialogue. To me, it felt like the writers were really trying to embrace the "teenage" aspect of the film, with comments by the male characters about how hot the female characters are. Sadly, it's not funny.
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There is a love story in the film that feels extremely forced. There are character choices that don't make any sense (like, why aren't you using your powers? You're in danger!). The story is driven by characters, yet the characters don't seem to change at all. There just doesn't seem to be any progression at all. Let me explain:
The story focuses on Danielle Moonstar, who has the ability to take fears and make them a reality. In the comics, her powers go much deeper than that, yet that is really all she can do in this film. The film appears to be about learning to face your fears, yet Moonstar is the only one who actually manages to do that. All of the other characters attack the manifestation of Moonstar's fear (which is a giant bear), but they don't actually face their own fears. That's poor character development if you ask me. There is zero progression. Why did the Demon Bear show up when it did? Who knows. Plot convenience, I guess, because how else were the protagonists gonna get out of the situation they were in?
Along with poor plot progression, poor character development, and poor writing, the performances were not that great, either. Maybe that was also due to the poor writing, but I just couldn't help but cringe while watching this thing.
Was There Anything Good?
There were hints of a good movie. The Smiley Men helped boost the horror aspect a little bit, and there are traces––and I mean the smallest of traces––of good character development when it came to what the characters' fears were. There were even some cool shots. But again, I couldn't help but cringe while watching this thing. The teenage feel and the intense-at-times horror didn't mesh very well, creating a very jumbled mess. It's sad to say because I genuinely want superhero films to succeed, but this film made the fizzle that the X-Men franchise ended on a lot bigger... and a lot worse.
Needless to say, this film should have gone straight to Disney Plus. Pushing it to theatres made the film feel a lot more important than it actually was. It didn't extend the story of the X-Men franchise, it didn't conclude anything... it's kind of just there. And at the time of its release, it just feels unnecessary. I didn't need this movie.
With poor writing, performances, development, etc., The New Mutants manages to fail at a time when I really want to go to the theatre to see good movies. This was my first time at a theatre since COVID began, and sadly, it was a bit painful to get through. Again, there are essences of a good film sprinkled throughout the final product, yet it just feels like the creators wanted this film to be too many things at once. It would have benefitted from a more focused genre and plot, as well as some better writing.
With all of that being said, I am going to give The New Mutants a 4/10.
© 2020 Benjamin Wollmuth