Fox’s X-Men franchise finally comes to an end with the long awaited New Mutants, a film project that has seemed to be cursed, having originally been scheduled for release in August 2018. As part of a franchise that has ranged from the genuinely brilliant in Logan to the truly awful in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and it feels fitting that the final film sits firmly in the middle as a distinctly average film.
The weird thing about The New Mutants that is weird is that it doesn’t feel like it will really please anyone. As a film in the X-Men franchise this feels extremely far removed and disconnected from any of the previous films, with only a couple of moments in The New Mutants that are reminiscent of some short sequences in Logan. This could have really worked in The New Mutants’ favour if they had sold the film in a unique way. And it had looked as though it was going to be sold as a psychological horror film, and that was certainly something that got me, and many others, excited. However those aspects never really materialised in the film itself, as any horror inspired moments are quickly breezed over and forgotten. That means it is hard to really know what kind of film The New Mutants wants to be, but it certainly isn’t one that will please the audience of either the franchise or those who liked the look of the trailers.
However, I did actually find myself having a pleasant enough time with The New Mutants. There is a possibility that is because I expected it to be pretty terrible, given the two year delay on release, and the final film actually winding up being distinctly average instead. Whilst the lead character, Dani Moonstar, is wholly uninspired, with a storyline that just felt like it was hitting every cliche it could on its way, the rest of the characters are actually interesting enough to sustain the film. The New Mutants is also helped by having such a talented cast on board, with some bigger names like Maisie Williams and Charlie Heaton, and the big standout, Anya Taylor-Joy. She is clearly having a great time playing Illyana Rasputin, and makes her the most magnetic character on the screen at almost every moment.
There are a few issues around the film, in particular around the whitewashing of the character of Bobby da Costa/Sunspot. A brazillian character of colour in the comics, this decision in particular drew criticism from the creator of the New Mutants, Bob McLeod. This is definitely a problem in the film industry, and it feels as though the people behind the decision felt they could get away with because he isn’t a well known character.
Focusing purely the quality of the film though, and The New Mutants is a fine cinematic experience, one I enjoyed more than I expected going in, but will probably forget pretty quickly.