Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The New Mutants


Cheyenne Native American Danielle “Mirage” Moonstar (Blu Hunt) ends up in a facility for gifted individuals after becoming the lone survivor of a tornado that devastates her reservation and kills her father. She meets Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga), a doctor who introduces herself as their mentor, a mutant who has the ability to create force fields. There she is also introduced to: devout Scottish Catholic Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair (Maisie Williams), who can turn into a wolf; American Samuel “Cannonball” Guthrie (Charlie Heaton), who has the ability of air propulsion; Brazilian Roberto “Sunspot” da Costa (Henry Zaga), who can control solar energy; and Russian sorceress Ilyana “Magik” Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), who can teleport and has access to the Soulworld. Her powers unknown, Dani’s arrival coincides with the tangible manifestation of everyone’s greatest fears, prompting them to believe that she is causing all of their hallucinations that have come to life to haunt them.

Touted as Marvel’s first venture into the horror genre, one can see that The New Mutants has potential, but somehow ends up squandering it by refusing to make a stand. For a superhero flick that does not boast a lot of fight scenes or recognizable characters, the horror angle, that very deviation away from the tried and tested formula, is supposed to be what makes it unique. It looks good on paper but the execution is totally meh, resulting in a half-baked wannabe thriller that makes you want to yawn more than scream.

Silence abounds, which is always an effective technique to build-up tension and up the ante for a jump scare. This film does not take advantage of that. Instead, it drowns in its own monotony. It would have been perfect had the directors dove straight into horror territory, except that all you get is a never-ending tease that does not culminate to anything even distinctly terrifying. Again, and perhaps this could never be reiterated enough: WASTED POTENTIAL. Maybe hiring a director who’s well-versed in the horror genre could have done the trick.

As if that is not enough to kill a spin-off, let’s recall, lest we forget, how this movie ended up in post-production limbo when Fox’s Marvel rights reverted to Disney. This one is down there with Dark Phoenix, both of which seem as though the people behind them just succumbed and said, Fvck it, finished or not let’s pass our papers. The CGI is decent enough, but perhaps it’s the screenplay itself that lacks the oomph for this one to be a legit hit. The eerie atmosphere appears to be aiming for some sort of psychological mindfuckery, but the end result makes it look like a TV movie you'd watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Hunt seems like a newbie because I don’t have the slightest idea who she is. Her acting is fine, but she does not have enough gravitas to carry the film. Zaga has so much potential to portray a literally explosive character given Sunspot’s powers but is instead kept busy shuttling back and forth between slightly emo and eye-candy which defines his wardrobe, or lack thereof. Heaton and Williams both come on the heels of successful TV outings but do not contribute much to the ensemble other than name recall. If anything, only Taylor-Joy is fun to watch given Magik’s unapologetic demeanor and showcase of powers, but she alone could not salvage this storyline.

The existence of Essex Corporation is more or less a reference to Mister Sinister, which goes to show that Fox was planning to link this to the greater shared universe. There is also a lot of mentions about the X-Men, so a crossover film was probably also in the works. The argument is moot, though, because that will no longer happen now and this is the last we are going to see from Fox as far as their Marvel (ex) properties are concerned. This is probably more exciting to watch on a big screen but given the current circumstances we are in, shelling out 170 pesos to rent it on YouTube is more than enough.

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