Film review: The New Mutants is ‘a passable superhero origin tale’

Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy in The New Mutants. Picture: 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy in The New Mutants. Picture: 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

© 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Film critic Paul Steward reviews The New Mutants starring Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams.

The New Mutants. Picture: 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film CorporationThe New Mutants. Picture: 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

After a tumultuous production, the much-delayed release of Josh Boones’ X-Men spin-off The New Mutants has finally made its way to cinemas.

Filmed way back in 2017, the film was originally slated for an April 2018 release, but was put back amid rumours that studio 20th Century Fox wanted reshoots to alter the film’s tone.

The protracted sale of Fox to rival studio Disney, and then the outbreak of coronavirus, caused further delays.

Now new owners Disney have finally released the film in its original form, without any of the planned reshoots.

Starring Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy and Charlie Heaton, the story focuses on a group of adolescents with fledgling super powers, who are held in a secret facility against their will.

After the arrival of newcomer Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) a Native American with dangerously unstable powers, the others begin to experience frightening hallucinations.

Is this new mutant the cause of these visions? Or is the sinister Doctor Reyes (Alice Braga) manipulating the youngsters for nefarious purposes?

Co-written and directed by Boone, the man behind 2014 hit The Fault in Our Stars, the film was supposed to be the first instalment in a spin-off trilogy to Fox’s X-Men series.

But now under new ownership, the film stands as a rather odd leftover from the now defunct franchise.

With a darker tone to that of previous X-Men films, The New Mutants also tries to appeal to the young adult crowd.

But coupled with the fact that it’s still a superhero movie at its core, it is clearly trying to cover too many bases.

Boone and his co-writer Knate Lee’s script is entertaining enough, but they never fully commit to a style.

On the bright side, following its troubled production, the fact the film has been released at all and isn’t terrible, must be cause for celebration.

The always watchable Williams pulls off a faultless Scottish accent as Rahne Sinclair, a young girl with werewolf like tendencies, and her gay relationship with Hunt’s rather bland Moonstar is handled well, a rarity for a big studio film.

Taylor-Joy’s character Illyana Rasputin (or Magik as she’s known in the comics) is by far the film’s most interesting character.

A Russian who can conjure up a powerful sword and teleport at will is the film’s early antagonist, being generally unpleasant to new recruit Moonstar.

Taylor-Joy lays on the accent a little thick but appears to be having tremendous fun in the role.

The film’s crazy conclusion, with the team fighting a massive CGI demon bear, makes very little sense, but introduces some welcome action to proceedings and makes for a visually striking finale.

The New Mutants would’ve been an interesting film to kick-off a new franchise, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever see these characters again.

What remains is a passable superhero origin tale, which tries to offer something different, but ultimately falls between two stools.

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