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Review: ‘The New Mutants’ Brings the ‘X-Men’ Franchise to a Lackluster Close

August 28, 2020Ben MK

With half a dozen sequels and nearly as many spinoffs under its utility belt, the X-Men film franchise has come a long way in the last two decades. Now, five years after it was originally announced, the long-awaited final installment in the series — The New Mutants — is finally here.

Based on the Marvel Comics series created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod, the movie follows a group of mutant teenagers receiving treatment at a facility run by Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga), a doctor trying to help them control their newly discovered mutant abilities and overcome the traumatic events in each of their lives. Yet, despite her seemingly caring and professional demeanor, Dr. Reyes hides a sinister secret. And it's up to new patient Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt) and her fellow mutants — Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams), Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga) — to uncover the dark truth.

Together, Danielle, Rahne, Illyana, Sam and Roberto — otherwise known to comic book readers as Psyche, Wolfsbane, Magik, Cannonball and Sunspot — are the titular new mutants. But unlike previous X-Men films, this is no traditional superhero movie. Instead, The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone and co-writer Knate Lee frame this story more as a Nightmare on Elm Street-ish horror thriller by way of angst-filled coming-of-age tale, with their protagonists dealing with their own conflicted emotions while facing off against nightmarish manifestations of their greatest fears.

Most notably, these fears consist of a horde of Slender Man-looking creatures and a giant, red-eyed demonic bear that the teens must battle during the film's climax, but they're otherwise nothing particularly terrifying. The most interesting aspect of the movie, however, is its blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to Logan — namely, glimpses of footage from James Mangold's film showing mutant children being experimented on — which provides a subtle hint at what might have been had these characters' arcs continued forward via a sequel.

Presumably, that was the original intent; but, unfortunately, moviegoers will never get to see the payoff of this origin story. Perhaps it's ultimately for the best, however, as The New Mutants doesn't quite live up to the hype, bringing the groundbreaking mutant franchise to a close not with a bang, but with a whimper.

The New Mutants releases August 28th, 2020 from 20th Century Studios. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for violent content, some disturbing/bloody images, some strong language, thematic elements and suggestive material. Its runtime is 1 hr. 38 min.

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