The New Mutants is a landmark movie, and not for any of the reasons you'd expect. Not because it has an indigenous lead character, a first for a superhero movie. Nor because it has the most explicit gay relationship in a mainstream action film. No, it is important because it's the last Marvel film to be put out by Fox, now firmly in the grips of the Disney Corporation. This movie has been in limbo for years, as corporate gods barter back and forth. Now the bargaining is done. And that unfortunately, is the most interesting thing about this entire movie.
The New Mutants is a poor man's It. Five teenagers are forced to confront their darkest fears by supernatural forces, while coming to terms with their own guilt and fear of their burgeoning powers. If you think that sounds good, watch the movie's first trailer from 2017. That trailer has stakes, tension, and some imaginative and frightening images. You will get none of these things in The New Mutants' 98-minute runtime. You'll get bad quips, badly CGI-ed eyes, and a rising sense of dread that there's a slim chance you've risked your life in a pandemic to watch this movie.
There's very few redeeming factors to this film. Maisie Williams manages to squeak out a better performance despite the film's writing. The film's poster is pretty cool. Both Sunspot and Magik are pretty nifty visual representations of their comic book counterparts. That's it. That's all. And most people won't know their Sunspots from their Sunfires, so really, if you haven't read the comics, the best you can hope for is Arya Stark going Wolfman.
The most painful part about The New Mutants is that all the pieces are there. The five characters and their respective fears are all ample fruit for drama and character growth. And the concept of a horror superhero movie remains exciting as a concept. Five underpowered youths use their wits and teamwork to survive in a house of horrors sounds good to me. But every element of this movie refuses to be interesting. With its bland cinematography, uninspired set design, and lackadaisical editing, every bit of tension is undercut. In a movie that was pitched as scary, there's not a single scare to be found.
The closest we get to a genuine fright is early on, when Maisie Williams enters an empty confessional booth to confess to her sins. Halfway through, the church doors slam and an eerie noise travels through the pews. After a tense few seconds, the other door opens. But there's no one behind. The shot lingers on the empty space where the priest should be.
Then Maisie Williams runs screaming out and the entire booth clatters with its doors flapping in time to screams of "WITCH WITCH", looking like a background character from Lumiere's Be Our Guest.
The New Mutants was my last hope in the coming onslaught of identical Marvel movies without a single tonal deviation. But now it's come and it's gone, leaving in its wake no change or impact. So, Fox, goodbye. You gave us 13 X-Men films and you should have given us maximum 6. It's truly incredible, that even in death, you still found it in you to disappoint.