It’s definitely been a long and winding road to get to this point. This apparent and likely finale to the ‘X-Men’ series has battled through delays of all kinds and 3 years later, is it a film worthy of the wait?
After a freak snowstorm, Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) wakes up in a facility looked over by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga). Dani comes to realise she’s not alone in this place and shares freakishly powerful abilities with four other young mutants who are being cared for and monitored, mostly to help them control their newly found gifts. However, Dani might have brought along a demonic ability that needs to see them work as one.
Whether or not you’re a comic-book fan, the ‘X-Men‘ universe is rife with eclectic characters and seeing a younger cluster of mutants in a darker setting makes for exciting reading on the page. When it is transported to the screen is frustratingly when the spicy expectation of a cool superhero horror fails. It would have been neat to see the comic-book movie world mauled with horror tones, but in a similar way to ‘Brightburn’ the mix doesn’t work and produces something with less impact than desired.
On top of this lacklustre horror element is the often exposition-heavy script, which seems even more forced considering the four other teenagers would surely have asked each other the screenplay’s questions in the time they’ve shared before Dani rocks up. There’s also a speedy, cliched way the movie builds a budding romance between two of the characters and you can see the finale a mile off. A film of distant youths needing to work together is so-so here and no less predictable than every hundred other times it’s been done.
The demons might not be scary and the CGI isn’t that well honed but there’s some nifty ideas amongst the ‘Shutter Island’ environment, which makes the domed cage of their own lockdown a chilling place. The creepiest figure isn’t the climactic creature but slender men like the Silence in ‘Doctor Who’, albeit these nightmarish people have wider, toothier grins.
Charlie Heaton dons a Southern drawl but doesn’t stand out, but he’s not lost to the shadows like boring Brazilian playboy Henry Zaga as Roberto. It’s a shame too that the film debut of Blu Hunt sees her turn as good but not amazing. She leads us into the confined world of dark powers but it’s Maisie Williams is almost the star of the show with a Scottish accent and furry complexion with love and loyalty on the cards, played with convincing charm. Anya Taylor-Joy is the real delight though, as she seems to be having fun in a film she knows isn’t good. The Russian accent, the purple puppet companion and her bunched horns of hair equal a devilish creation.
‘The New Mutants’ is nothing new and maybe some will say it should have carried on facing indefinite delays for all time but there are engaging moments and shady qualities to hook onto.