Fox (and now Disneyâs) groundbreaking (if inconsistent) X-Men franchise deserved a better send-off than this nothing-burger of a movie.
Note: Iâm not going to lecture you about attending movie theaters, since weâre all adults. But I will note that I saw this at a drive-in late last night, and that Disney is reporting that the film earned $750,000 in preview screenings. Even noting 62% nationwide capacity, that still would have been around $1.25 million in preview grosses in 100% of the country which (using plausible comparisons) would have been an opening of between $13 million and $21 million for the weekend. At the moment, we might expect a $7 million-$13 million Fri-Sun debut.
Putting aside the circumstances of its release, both in terms of being delayed for over two years (mostly due to shenanigans related to Disney
buying Fox in mid-2019) and being the first âmajorâ studio release dropped into nationwide theatrical release after months pandemic-related theater closures, The New Mutants is a miserable motion picture. Itâs a monotonous, redundant and irrelevant fantasy flick that fails to commit to being a teen melodrama, a YA fantasy or a horror movie, instead offering half-assed components of all three. Despite a strong cast, the all-too-rare presence of an LGBTQIA romance between two lead characters and a few moments of visual inventiveness, Josh Boone and Knate Leeâs The New Mutants boils down to being, yes, a terrible feature-length prequel for a sequel that absolutely no one will ever want to see.
The film concerns five teens who reside in an abandoned hospital run by Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). Long-story short, they are all mutants with unusually dangerous powers who have unintentional (or, in one case, righteously intentional) blood on their hands and are under supervision until they learn to control their powers. Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) enters the fray after her entire reservation is wiped off the map in the filmâs cryptic prologue, and even though she doesnât yet know what her mutant power is she is considered a danger to others. As Dani struggles to figure out what she can or canât do, while romantically bonding with persecuted lycan Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams), the teens begin to experience terrifying visions linked to their own respective traumas. But all is not as it seems.
The film does indeed take place within the world of Foxâs X-Men series, although that franchiseâs random continuity negates much interconnectivity. Thereâs, at best, a few verbal references to the X-Men and a fleeting non-verbal reference to Charles Xavier, a character who either still runs the Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters (X-Men: Days of Future Past) or left the school to Hank McCoy after his attempts to control Jean Grey went awry (Dark Phoenix). Regardless, these arenât exactly flagship characters, and nobody wears anything resembling a comic book costume, so the film has to stand on its own as a spin-off that just happens to take place in an existing universe. While the film could be commended for being a full-throated genre approximation, it still plays out as expected in terms of comic book superhero expectations.
Due to obvious franchise aspirations, we have five primary characters who all get introductions, sequences where they show off their powers, scenes where they lay out their respective traumatic âorigin storyâ and set-pieces where they fend off haunted visions. Yes, thatâs a lot of leg work for a 90-minute movie. The monotony and redundancy resembles It, which also spent much of its running time with somewhat stand-alone sequences of its unkillable main cast being attacked by specifically-tailored terrors. That film at least had more than just stand-alone scare sequences and didnât entirely take place in a single visually drab interior locale. Considering Fox allegedly first demanded reshoots after It made $700 million worldwide, itâs ironic that New Mutants (essentially what Boone shot in 2017) has all of Itâs weakness and none of its strengths.
Anya Taylor-Joy makes for a compelling Illyana Rasputin, presented as a victim of child slavery (and presumably rape) and she cuts a striking action figure in the filmâs fantastical climax. None of the other kids (including Henry Zagaâs Roberto da Costa and Charlie Heatonâs Sam Guthrie), all of whom have done fine work elsewhere, make an impression. Braga barely allows her voice to rise above a whisper. Save for fleeting past-tense cameos, those six people are the only characters in the movie. The 90-minute flick consists of these five youngsters going through a standard TV pilot-style heroic awakening with the presumption that theyâll be the marquee characters/heroes fans wanted to see in the next movie. Considering Dark Phoenixâs failure and Disneyâs presumed intent to reboot X-Men into the existing MCU, this route is especially cruel.
Lacking marquee characters and existing as a feature-length prologue, The New Mutants fails as a teen melodrama and, partially because we know none of the core cast is in any danger, as a horror movie. Whether it justifies itself as an X-Men movie is irrelevant since it is a very bad X-Men movie, the worst of the franchise. At least X-Men Origins: Wolverine had multiple locations, multiple characters and big-scale comic book action that resembled a trashy 1980âs Cannon flick. New Mutantsâ visuals are generally drab, and the few moments of fantastical color lit up the screen. All due credit for an inclusive cast and a front-and-center same-sex romance, and with a note that Booneâs The Fault in Our Stars was one of the best movies of 2014, The New Mutants is like watching a lousy TV pilot for a show that you know didnât get picked up.
I’ve studied the film industry, both academically and informally, and with an emphasis in box office analysis, for nearly 30 years. I have extensively written about all
I’ve studied the film industry, both academically and informally, and with an emphasis in box office analysis, for nearly 30 years. I have extensively written about all of said subjects for the last 11 years. My outlets for film criticism, box office commentary, and film-skewing scholarship have included The Huffington Post, Salon, and Film Threat. Follow me at @ScottMendelson and « like » The Ticket Booth on Facebook.
Donnez votre point de vue et aboonez-vous!
Votre point de vue compte, donnez votre avis
[maxbutton id= »1″]