In the summer of 2011, I might as well have lived at our local movie theater for the ludicrous number of times I saw X-Men: First Class. It was the first installation in the franchise’s 2010s chapter — a chapter which included monster hits such as Deadpool and Logan — and it brought my steadfast attention to the world of Professor X and Magneto. I was hooked! I watched pretty much every movie as they came out, whether good or (very, very) bad — looking at you, Apocalypse — but by the time The New Mutants came out, it was actually my boyfriend who convinced me to go see it. Given that it’s the last X-Men movie that won’t be completely butchered by Disney, I understood its significance, but it was the 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes that made me groan when we left for the theater.
For those who don’t know about the obnoxious history of this movie, I’ll make the long, painful story short: it was supposed to come out in April of 2018. Fans have been waiting for this for years, given the amazing first trailer we saw three years ago:
You get the vibe: it’s creepy, it’s isolated, and it actually looks like a great horror movie. A superhero horror movie! Given how tired the genre is getting (because really, how many times can you introduce a new hero and expect non-comic fans to care?) it was exciting to see something fresh injected into such a major franchise. Unfortunately, by the time the film was spliced together and released on August 28, that snapshot becomes entirely irrelevant. The New Mutants isn’t a horror movie: it’s The Breakfast Club in dark mode.
Let me say this first: This movie deserves better than an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes and way better than all of the reviews claiming it’s the worst X-Men film of all time. In a lot of ways, it’s actually a really interesting watch! The cast and character diversity is very inclusive — a trademark for all X-Men content, but still impressive for Hollywood — and we get to watch some cute teenage gays be cute teenage gays. The special effects are iffy, but their moments of triumph are genuinely satisfying. There’s some decent comedy that adds levity to an otherwise dark movie; sequences of the kids goofing off or jamming to embarrassing Top 40 hits makes for a laugh after a particularly jarring jump scare.
In my eyes, that’s where The New Mutants fails. It’s so chopped together that none of its original tones come through, and the two that are left — teen comedy and horror — lack the strength we could have seen in a 2018 edit. There are some horror elements, like CGI monsters who jump out from behind corners, but it doesn’t feel like a scary movie. The protagonists do get into some typical teenage hijinks, but it doesn’t feel like a coming-of-age film. Because I don’t have the knowledge to critique any character adaptations, this is the primary flaw. Its attempt to force two movies into one and tie it with a frilly thematic bow feels just that: forced.
[bf_image id="q5belx-7bi054-1u86qt"] However, I do recommend that any interested reader watch it! I don’t know if that means you should take any risks with COVID by going to the theater (we do live in a Redbox world, after all) but my theater experience was surprisingly positive. The nearest open AMC to campus is the one at the Altamonte Mall, and I was impressed by their COVID safety precautions. Masks are required at all times — except for the occasional popcorn feasts and soda slurps — and the reserved seating system is skillfully utilized to enforce social distancing. Honestly, if you’re really passionate about going to see this and are aware of the risks, I would highly suggest it, even if you just want to prove my relatively-positive opinions wrong.
In sum: I’m really glad my boyfriend made me take him to go see this movie. He made his own review in a video that I’m going to link below, because I’m featured and feel cool for dating a YouTuber. I hope you’ll give it a watch, like, and maybe even subscribe!