Getting The New Mutants from pitch to screen hasn’t been an easy journey by any means nessicary. With the success of Logan and Deadpool which were creative-driven in which they were given the necessary freedom, it would have been wise of Fox to strike a similar balance with their other films but it wasn’t the case, they hired Simon Kinberg for X-Men: Dark Phoneix but that was plagued by studio meddling and Kinberg not being given the creative freedom required. With The New Mutants, you had a young filmmaker in Josh Boone who had a strong horror coming of age story that was unique in the genre but compounded by disagreement in visions, story direction, and character arcs resulted in a flawed yet unique addition to the Fox X-Men catalog.
After a freak accident, Mirage (Blu Hunt) is sent to a facility made for young mutants like herself where she meets the likes of Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), Wolfsbane (Maise Williams), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), and Sunspot (Henry Zaga). Once they are all there they go through their own trials and tribulations with the guidance of Dr. Reyes. But they soon come to realize that the facility isn’t there to make them better and Dr. Reyes isn’t exactly who she says she is.
Fox has never really had a clear vision of what they want to with the X-Men properties, for the longest time they will go filmmaker to filmmaker and go with their vision unless they vehemently disagree with it they will go in themselves and attempt to fix it. With Josh Boone, it seems like he really had a strong vision of a horror film in the vein of a John Hughes film and from what it seems like for the most part his vision was seen to screen.
The cast is easily the best part of the film, they play off each other really well and have a ton of fun and witty banter, that’s where the film truly shines in the moments where you get to see them be themselves. Seeing the performance Blu Hunt and Maise Williams play off each other is very unique to the genre. They both bring the best out of each other by making them come out of their shells and truly express. The exploration of their journey as an LGBTQ couple should have been explored more and done in-depth. Both Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy do the best with the limited script they were given and their characters really not expanded to the amount they should have been. More likely than not that could be due to being left on the cutting room with Fox likely wanting a shorter runtime to recoup the most they can. The rich back story that someone like Cannonball and Magik with such rich journeys and terrific actors to tell them was very underutilized. When it comes to those to you just start to get a realization of just how surface level this story. None is more evident than Sunspot how might as well not even been there simply there for the obligatory jokes when needed.
What Josh Boone and his screenwriting partner Knate Lee fail to do is go more in-depth into the journey of their characters their exploration of overcoming what haunts them to this day. The cast does the best they can with the lackluster script but their performances are truly one of the standouts of the film.
The other aspect that was so heavily interesting to audiences due to its uniqueness within the genre was the horror elements of the film. While of course nobody expected something over the top and grotesque but we did expect some truly dark and gore visuals. But it as very lackluster to say the least, nothing even touches what you usually see in a PG- 13 horror film. All of it is very tame and none of it even pushes what we’ve seen before in the superhero films before this.
The unique elements of this film are the character designs, they stand out more than anything. Sunspots transformation could have easily looked like its previous iteration of the character or could have been mistaken for the Human Torch but it’s unique and you see how it’s more of an affliction than a blessing. Magik’s transformed arm to unlock her sword and her true form has an interesting neon tone to it. Demon Bear design is a standout as its seems like is made of its surrounding things and not a real true bear. It feels like the air that forms the bear.
Overall the concept of The New Mutants seems to be better than the actual execution of the film. The small character moments between the group and certain individuals are what make the film. The design of the characters are unique and standout. But at its core its a very surface level film, its has fine origins for some characters but never gets to the depth of them and explore what truly makes them tick.