Inconsistent ‘New Mutants’ disappoints


Violet Chace, Staff Writer

“The New Mutants,” a spin-off of the X-Men universe, follows Dani Moonstar, known in the comics as Mirage. She is held in a hospital by Dr. Cecilia Reyes for treatments meant to “cure” her mutant powers. She is joined by four other mutants, Cannonball, Magik, Sunspot and Wolfsbane, who help her try to discover the real reason why they are being held in a cage.

While X-men movies are action-packed and known for their brightly colored mutants and suits, “The New Mutants” is much darker and takes place in an eerie hospital. The unusual setting and horror elements set it a part from other Marvel movies.

Though the tone is commendable, it is inconsistent. At times it feels like a coming of age story, an action movie or a horror movie. It’s as if the writers were not bold enough to pick one consistent theme, so they stopped halfway through to make it horror and it does not work.

Something else unusual about this branch of the X-Men universe is that most audiences will be unfamiliar with the mutants. The most famous character is Illyana who is known as Magik. She is more recognizable because in most comics, she is the little sister of X-Men member Colossus, most recently seen in the “Deadpool” franchise.                                

Where previous X-Men movies have lacked clear origin stories, “The New Mutants” takes time to give each character a solid backstory that would have made it easy to create a sequel if only this movie weren’t so bad. The film’s slow pace allows for viewers to get to know the new characters, but it takes too long to get to any action sequences.

What excites fans about X-men movies are the third acts when the characters show off their mutant powers, but the final act of “The New Mutants” underwhelms. There are missed opportunities for characters to display the powers they have been repressing for most of the movie because a doctor has been holding them hostage in the hospital. Multiple scenes show characters walking towards danger and going to attack something then cut away before viewers can see what they were about to do. Not to mention the ending proves anticlimactic and unoriginal. With a run time of 1 hour and 39 minutes, the writers could have added more action sequences and extended the ending to make it less cliche. 

In addition to the bad ending, the writing feels unrealistic. Actors like Maisie Williams and Charlie Heaton do the most with what they have been given, but the script does not give these strong actors and actresses the opportunity to shine. 

While the movie isn’t great, it does celebrate diversity. Mirage is Native American and based on the comic book character. In addition, “The New Mutants” is the first Marvel movie to have the main character be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

A few of the actors in “The New Mutants” carry the movie, but since it has such a small cast, it is important that all of the actors do their part. Blu Hunt’s portrayal of Moonstar is weak, making it hard to care about her despite a tragic backstory. 

“The New Mutants” cast does include some talented actors and actresses who have gained popularity in recent years. Maisie Williams had a lead role on “Game of Thrones” and is known for her stunt work. Anya Taylor-Joy has been the main character in award winning films including “Vvitch”, “Split” and “Emma.” And Charlie Heaton plays Johnathan Byers in the show “Stranger Things.”    

One traditional way to counter bad acting is to make adjustments through editing, but this movie gets worse in post-production. It is as if the editors clicked shuffle on all of the scenes. With some rearranging and more sophisticated editing, the film would have run more smoothly and would not have felt so choppy and amateurish. 

In one scene Heaton’s character Sam is beating himself up front of a mirror. The scene is only about 20 seconds long and comes out of nowhere then cuts to a scene the next day. The filmmakers already have established that Sam deals with self-harm issues, so it’s unnecessary to show an additional, more graphic scene. It seemed like it was a part of a longer scene that may have had more context, but the way it is edited into the movie makes no sense.

Because the actors and actresses are popular among teens, it is clear that this film targets a younger audience. Examining mental-health issues is important, but with a subject as delicate as self-harm, it is important to not send the wrong message. 

“X-men: Days of Future Past” shows professor Xavier’s younger self struggling with drug addiction and does an excellent job following his journey to overcoming it. But in ”The New Mutants, there is no follow-up with Sam or any character development showing that he overcomes his obstacle. This contributes to the normalization of self-harm especially because two of the other characters know about what Sam is going through and do nothing but gossip about it. 

Self-harm is not the only difficult subject the film brings up. Magik makes racist comments towards Moonstar, calling her  “Pocahontas” and “Standing Rock”  and offering her buffalo wings as a joke and asks her to show her “where daddy touched her,” which is crossing the line for a PG-13 superhero movie. Magik’s character is rude and it might not have been out of character for her to poke at what she knows would bother people, but the writers could have made her mean without also making her racist. 

The “good guys” in comics and superhero movies are important role models and should teach kids to help others who are  going through hard times and not to look past racist comments.