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  New Mutants, The X-Asperated
Year: 2020
Director: Josh Boone
Stars: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, Adam Beach, Thomas Kee, Colbi Gannett, Happy Anderson, Dustin Ceithamer, Jacinto Vega SpiritWolf, Marilyn Manson
Genre: Horror, Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) was a teenage girl who lived with her father on a Native American reservation when one night she was awoken by a commotion, some kind of storm was raging outside and she quickly became terrified. Her father rushed into her bedroom and grabbed her, pulling her out of their home and into the woods close by, not really explaining what was going on but trying to keep her safe. But there was nobody to keep him safe, as the disaster enveloped him and crushed his body, leaving Dani running away in a panic until - she woke up again. However, now she was in a mysterious facility with no idea of why...

The New Mutants became a bit of a joke after a while, as the movie that couldn't get released. Thanks to a scheduling issues, a call for reshoots that was not able to be realised, 20th Century Fox being bought by Disney which threw their franchises into disarray, and eventually the pandemic which saw this sneaked out when hardly anyone was going to the cinemas relative to what audiences had been months before and this might have been given the impression that there was some grudge against it. That may have been the case thanks to a lesbian subplot between two of the teenage characters, which would certainly have affected its popularity.

Mind you, if a movie featuring a couple of gay characters deeply offends you, you have more problems than what was in effect a superhero flick for a franchise that was dead in the water even before its release debacle. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe went from strength to strength, the X-Men series sputtered out after a beginning that had generated the public's appetite for superheroes on the big screen. If the gay panic did affect this effort's chances, that was ironic considering it was often seen as a metaphor for the whole coming out experience and living among the straights, some of whom were friendlier to their orientation than others.

They were evidently aiming for the female market here, given the girls were more fleshed out than the boys: five talented teens who are trapped by an invisible dome in an old mental asylum, looked after by scientist Alice Braga in a strangely understaffed establishment, indeed we never even see who she is working for. That would have been left to the sequels, as a trilogy was planned (of course), but director Josh Boone's vision for this adaptation of a Chris Claremont and Bill Seinkiewicz comic had been of more a Stephen King meets the Mutants yarn, though King himself would create one of those with his novel The Institute, which was published before this film was even out, making it look like more of a cash-in than a tribute. This assuredly fired up the imagination far more than anything on the screen.

It was an old story: bright young talent is reined in by the uncaring studio who just want to maximise profits, and that meant a PG-13 rating, not the hard R Boone would have preferred. In effect, he got a hard PG-13, which was neither one thing nor the other, and it's uncertain if he had managed to arrange those reshoots whether they would have improved the results. This left The New Mutants as one of those "what if?" pictures, not exactly The Magnificent Ambersons but you could perceive how this could have wound up something genuinely provocative and visually inventive, though as it was a CGI giant bear was the best it could muster, a step up from Prophecy if nothing else. The cast hinted at a better experience than we had, but it was worth pointing out whatever this was, it wasn't a dead loss: as it stood, it was a fair running through corridors sci-fi chiller, it's just that's all it was, and some fun performances (Maisie Williams as an oh-so-serious Scottish werewolf, Anya Taylor-Joy as... whatever she was supposed to be) were not enough to dispel the air of missed opportunity. Music by Mark Snow.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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