A Look At The New Mutants
Two years ago, this movie missed itís first release date in 2018, and was originally intended to tie into X Men Dark Phoenix. Then the delays started, first because of reshoots, then because of the Fox buy out from Disney and then the damn plague came around. I was happy to finally see this movie, I wasnít expecting a blockbuster, I wanted a mutant movie from the X Men side of the Marvel Universe. My expectations were tempered.
After a horrific storm tears through her reservation, Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) wakes up in a facility in the middle of rural America. Overseen by a Dr. Reyes, Dani and 4 other institutionalized mutants reflect on their pasts and the hurt their powers have caused. These being Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams), Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto Da Costa (Henry Zaga).
Knowing going in that this movie was leaning on horror elements, I appreciated that this filmís setting is an echo of past X Men movies. Past X men movies often used the Xavier institute as a place to calm the audience, itís a peaceful setting for the characters to have exposition. In this movie, we have an institute for emotionally damaged youths, thereís a feeling of catharsis about it though undercut by itís vacancy of people besides the 5 mutants and Reyes. It gives an eerie feeling to be sure.
On the subject of the characters, there was a deeper sense of vulnerability from this team than one would be used to from the X Men movies. This was shown most in Sam and Rahne, both were timid and scared and quivered their feelings through their accents. Seeing Sam especially was satisfying to watch when he stopped being scared of his powers and more scared of watching his friends get hurt; letting loose his explosive invulnerability on the smiling men. Illyana was an acquired taste, her bad attitude was laid on a bit thick at the beginning of the movie but became more tolerable when her energy was directed towards the action scenes. Dani and Roberto were serviceable as characters, but I found Dani underwhelming. And Roberto, though he had some substantial scenes, amounted mostly to the filmís comic relief.
Iíll also give a point of praise to the marketing of this movie. Most times, in press leading up to the release of some media, a characterís sexuality is advertised in big bold headlines. I hate this, because this can feel like an overcompensation for a lack of character, and in some instances can overshadow an audience memberís impression of said character. Rahne Sinclair, is a small lesbian and a small angel that convinces Dani not to jump to her death. Itís is just the cutest thing and it warmed my heart watching Dani and Rahne find comfort in eachother. HOWEVER Large portions of time were dedicated to the developing relationship between Dani and Rahne. Soon enough, Dani has overcame her emotional trauma, which is good for her but a double edged sword for the movie. Dani didnít know at first, but in time learns that it was her powers that lead to the death of her father. Sam and Roberto, they know they killed people. It was unintentional but theyíre terrified of themselves. Illyana was traumatized by demons of Limbo, and has been emotionally unhinged because of it. One could debate that so much time was given to Dani and Rahne overcoming their sadness that there wasnít much time left over to give to the 3 other protagonists to reflect on themselves and rise over their fears. Their horror story was undercut, by the gayness of the movie. I canít confidently say Dr. Reyes had time to be particularly villainous, sheís a shady psychologist but is otherwise unconscious through many parts of the movie because Illyana kept drugging her drinks. And that leads me to my final point: what could have been. The institution the characters are trapped in, is owned by none other than Nathaniel Essex. Mister Sinister. His name has been creeping through the X men movies over the last few years, X Men Apocalypse, Logan and Deadpool 2(yuck). Itís a discomforting presence to be sure, but unless Kevin Feige sees fit to bring Sinister over to the MCU, X Men fans will never get to see what that weird pervert was planning. I liked this movie, itís a comfortable viewing with familiar ideas shown in a different lens. Iíll be happy to add it to my X Men Blu Rays and slip my ticket stub into the case. But Iím sad to see this movie getting treated the way it is. It came out two years late in the middle of a time when are either too lethargic to go outside or too disinterested in a movie released by forces that be that didnít want to nurture the X Men franchise and itís characters. Even the original artist for the New Mutants comics, Bob Mcleod, tore into the movie mainly over the characterís appearances. As an X Men fan, this movie is inoffensive, this movie is harmless, this movie does well enough to shine a light on some otherwise overlooked characters in the mutant side of Marvel. If you like X Men, give New Mutants a chance. P.S. Lockheedís inclusion was a treat for readers of the comics when I thought the producers of the film were copping out.