After years of patiently waiting, The New Mutants is finally here. Was it worth the wait? In short, no, but it’s still worth a watch if you’re a Marvel and/or X-Men fan.
The New Mutants tells the story of five teenage mutants living in what they’re told is a hospital, designed to protect the world from them, and them from themselves.
There’s Illyana Rasputin, AKA Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), a feisty, rebellious troublemaker with a real mean streak and a very special friend named Lockheed. Sam Guthrie AKA Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), is a Kentucky boy who accidentally killed his father and his mining crew when his powers manifested underground. There’s Rahne Sinclair AKA Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), a devout catholic who was battered and beaten by her priests who called her a witch due to her mutant power of lycanthropy.
While he carries himself as the archetypal rich kid jock on the surface, on the inside Roberto De Costa AKA Sunspot (Henry Zaga) is a scared, timid kid who is deathly afraid of hurting others with his pyrokinetic powers. The final member of the team is Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), a Native American girl whose mutant ability is to manifest nightmares. Rounding out the cast is Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga), the “doctor” who runs the facility.
The New Mutants: The Tale Of Dani Moonstar
The story begins (and ends) with a voiceover from Dani about a legend that her father told her in her youth: There are two bears inside all of us, one benevolent and one malevolent. As we grow, they grow with us, though it is up to you which one you feed.
My distaste for this cheesy framing device aside, the opening scene does set up the film’s antagonist, The Demon Bear, quite nicely. In addition to the voiceover, we see Dani’s father bringing her to safety in the woods as the bear destroys their reservation. Though she doesn’t know exactly what is slaughtering her people at the time, she knows that it was something monstrous and beastly.
This puts her at odds with Dr. Reyes, because once Dani wakes up, she is no longer in the woods. Instead she finds herself in this so-called hospital, speaking to a doctor who claims that a tornado destroyed her reservation. They sow the seeds of deception and distrust right off the bat, immediately letting viewers know that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Cecilia Reyes.
Over the next few days, Dani meets the other residents of the facility and begins to forge connections with them. Rahne and Dani quickly fall for one another, while her relationship with Sam and Roberto remains platonic and tragically underdeveloped.
While the chemistry of the group works, it’s clearly divided into subdivisions. Rahne and Dani are in love, Sam and Roberto are close friends, almost like siblings, and Illyana is the bitter, jaded lone wolf of the team. In an ensemble film such as this one, a longer runtime can go a long way towards fleshing out all of the character relationships. Unfortunately, at only an hour and forty minutes, The New Mutants simply doesn’t have enough time to make that happen.