Judey Reviews: The New Mutants

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Jude Rodriguez, Editor-In-Chief

Director Josh Boone’s The New Mutants is a standalone, creative work of comic book movie cinema, and is shamefully underlooked.
As an avid movie fan as well as a comic book movie fan, I have been following this film’s production since it first started in 2017. After four theatrical release delays, the film finally was shown in theaters for the first time on August 28, 2020, to a mostly negative response and a poor box office return. But since theaters in Michigan reopened on October 9, I wanted to see for myself whether this movie was really as awful as critics say it was by watching it where it was meant to be seen. As far as comic book films go, this film was nowhere near as bad as what some critics make it out to be.
The film is set in the X-Men movie universe, where the main characters are patients in a rehabilitation center for young adults with mutant abilities. Dani Moonstar (played by Blu Hunt), one of the main characters, is taken to this facility after her reservation is destroyed by an EF5 tornado, as the facility’s head doctor tells her. At the facility, she meets other young people like herself who possess mutant powers and who all have been sent to this treatment center for an unknown purpose. As the story continues, Dani discovers the scope of her abilities and together with the other patients, realizes that the doctor claiming to help them control their powers has a more sinister ulterior motive.
What sets this film apart from other comic book movies as of late is its unique usage of horror elements. There are some genuinely creepy and shocking moments throughout this movie, which is something I appreciated as a horror film enthusiast. Dani’s ability to physically project the fears of others resulted in some tense and actually horrifying sequences that had me audibly reacting (the best part about MJR reopening with pandemic restrictions is that there was no one else in the theater with me).
One of the biggest appeals for me in the film was the chemistry between the cast members, which in turn makes for better dynamics between their respective characters. The relationship between Dani and fellow patient Rahne Sinclair (played by Maisie Williams) is an excellent piece of the story, as well as the friendship between patients Sam Guthrie (played by Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa (played by Henry Zaga).
I feel that the worst thing a comic book movie can do in this age where superhero movies have dominated the movie landscape is to blend in with the rest of the superhero movie market. Take the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): Each new installment feels like it’s the same two-hour action-comedy that sets up the next two-hour action-comedy at the end. However, with The New Mutants, it felt like a breath of fresh air not having to listen to one-liners and forced comedy interjected between dramatic and energetic scenes.
Something I did dislike with the film was the criminally underutilized abilities of all the main characters. Each character’s mutant powers were used sparingly throughout the story, which is a real shame since all of their abilities were remarkably well-done both visually and practically.
While I did like these characters and I enjoyed the story, it is sad to see that this was the final installment in the X-Men film series, or at least the last in the series owned by 20th Century Studios since the studio and its film rights were purchased by Disney in March of 2019.
Overall, I would say The New Mutants is worth a watch if you want to expand your taste for superhero cinema beyond the conventional MCU movie blueprint.