Shot in 2017, X-Men cousin The New Mutants finally limps onto the big screen. Multiple release delays over the past two years, led by Disney’s buy-out of original backers 20th Century Fox and then the coronavirus pandemic, have kept it in limbo where, arguably, it should’ve stayed.
Directed and co-written by Josh Boone (hit YA romance The Fault Of Our Stars), this story of youthful mutants coming to terms with their powers in a secure facility might’ve led to a whole new spin-off series. But never certain if it’s a teen coming-of-age tale, fantasy Marvel movie or adolescent horror-shocker, it barely merits a bargain-DVD release.
Blu Hunt plays Cheyenne Native American Dani Moonstone, “the soul survivor of a terrible tragedy”, which includes the loss of her father. Ushered inside the facility by its sole staff member, Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga), she soon meets the other inmates, including the lycanthropic Rahne (Maisie Williams, going full Scots), who shows her the ropes – and a few secret passageways – around this grim Gothic establishment.
With Reyes using force fields, as well as surveillance equipment, to keep them all on lockdown, the others on the inside are Russian sorceress Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), who claims to have killed 18 men; the lightning-quick good ’ole Kentucky kid Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton); and well-to-do Brazilian himbo Roberto (Henry Zaga), who initially refuses to reveal his powers due to the trauma they’ve caused him.
Aside from a cursory mention of the X-Men, you’d barely know this was in the same universe. From Taylor-Joy (in one of the more enjoyable performances, admittedly) talking to a sock puppet to a tepid same-sex romance, the script repeatedly fails to take flight. And that’s before we’ve even mentioned a third act that seems to have been re-worked into oblivion.